Independent Catholic News logo Welcome Visitor
Friday, December 2, 2016
Pope Benedict in Santiago de Compostela
Comment Email Print
 
Santiago de Compostela Cathedral by night - photo JS
This morning Benedict XVI began the 19th apostolic trip of his pontificate, which is taking him to two places of ancient Catholic tradition in Spain: Santiago de Compostela, traditionally associated with the practice of pilgrimages to the tomb of the Apostle James the Great and currently celebrating a Jubilee Year, and Barcelona where the Pope will consecrate the as-yet-unfinished church of the Sagrada Famila, 128 years after building work began.

Santiago de Compostela, the first stop on the Holy Father's trip, owes its name to the Apostle St James (Santiago in Spanish) and to the Latin phrase "campus stellae" (Compostela), a reference to the star which, according to tradition, indicated the site containing the remains of the Apostle who, following his martyrdom in Jerusalem, was miraculously transported to Spain. At the site of the discovery of the saint's body, which took place in the year 823, King Alfonso II ordered a church to be built and entrusted it to the Benedictine monks, but in 997 it was destroyed by the Muslim troops of Almanzor. Rebuilt and transformed by King Bermudo II, it eventually became the third most important pilgrimage site after Jerusalem and Rome. In 1985 the city of Santiago de Compostela was declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

The Pope departed from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 8.30am and landed at Santiago de Compostela at 11.30am, where he was welcomed at the steps of his aircraft by Their Royal Highnesses Felipe de Borbon y Borbon and Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, Prince and Princess of Asturias, and by Archbishop Julian Barrio Barrio of Santiago de Compostela.

The welcome ceremony took place at the airport's southern terminal, inaugurated for this occasion, and was attended by authorities from the central government, the autonomous region of Galicia, and the town hall of Santiago, as well as by Spanish cardinals, the executive committee of the Spanish Episcopal Conference and several hundred faithful. After the national anthems and a speech by the Prince of Asturias, the Pope addressed some words to those present.

"I have come as a pilgrim in this Holy Year of Compostela and I bring in my heart the same love of Christ which led the Apostle Paul to embark upon his journeys, with a desire also to come to Spain. I wish to join the great host of men and women who down the centuries have come to Compostela from every corner of this peninsula, from throughout Europe and indeed the whole world, in order to kneel at the feet of St James and be transformed by the witness of his faith. They, at every step and filled with hope, created a pathway of culture, prayer, mercy and conversion, which took shape in churches and hospitals, in inns, bridges and monasteries. In this way, Spain and Europe developed a spiritual physiognomy indelibly marked by the Gospel.

"Precisely as a herald and witness of the Gospel", the Holy Father added, "I am also going to Barcelona, in order to nourish the faith of its welcoming and dynamic people. A faith sown already at the dawn of Christianity, one which blossomed and grew in the warmth of countless examples of holiness, giving rise to countless institutions of beneficence, culture and education. A faith which inspired the gifted architect Antoni Gaudi to undertake in that city, with the fervour and co-operation of many people, that marvel which is the church of the Sagrada Familia. It will fall happily to me to dedicate that church, which reflects all the grandeur of the human spirit in its openness to God.

"I am very pleased to be once again in Spain, which has given the world a constellation of great saints, founders and poets, like Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Jesus, John of the Cross, Francis Xavier, among many others; in the twentieth century it raised up new institutions, groups and communities of Christian life and apostolic activity and, in recent decades, it has advanced in harmony and unity, in freedom and peace, looking to the future with hope and responsibility. Moved by her rich patrimony of human and spiritual values, she seeks likewise to progress amid difficulties and to offer her solidarity to the international community".

Benedict XVI continued: "These contributions and initiatives which have distinguished your long past, as well as the present, together with the significance of the two beautiful places I will visit on this occasion, lead me to look also to all the peoples of Spain and Europe. Like the Servant of God John Paul II, who from Compostela exhorted the old continent to give a new impulse to its Christian roots, I too wish to encourage Spain and Europe to build their present and to project their future on the basis of the authentic truth about man, on the basis of the freedom which respects this truth and never harms it, and on the basis of justice for all, beginning with the poorest and the most defenceless; a Spain and a Europe concerned not only with people's material wants but also with their moral and social, spiritual and religious needs, since all these are genuine requirements of our common humanity and only in this way can work be done effectively, integrally and fruitfully for man's good", the Pope concluded. He then completed his remarks with thesewords in Galician:
 
"Dear friends, I renew my thanks for your kind welcome and for your presence at this airport. I renew my affection and closeness to the beloved sons and daughters of Galicia, Catalonia and the other peoples of Spain. In commending my stay among you to the intercession of the Apostle St. James, I ask God to bestow his blessings on all of you. Thank you very much".

Following the welcome ceremony, the Holy Father held a brief private meeting in the airport's VIP room with the Prince and Princes of Asturias, before travelling by popemobile to the city of Santiago de Compostela.

On his arrival at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the Pope entered the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament before going on to greet faithful from the Portico de la Gloria, a granite construction dating from the twelfth century the columns of which are decorated with the figures of Christ, the Apostles, saints, prophets, angels, symbolic creatures and episodes from the Bible.

The Holy Father then exited the cathedral by the Royal Door and re-entered by the Holy Door. After a moment of prayer before the tomb of St James he gave the traditional embrace to the statue of the Apostle.

Then, following a brief greeting by Archbishop Julian Barrio Barrio of Santiago de Compostela, the Pope gave the following address.

"To go on pilgrimage", he said, "is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history. To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where He has revealed Himself, where His grace has shone with particular splendour and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe".

"In this Holy Year of Compostela, I too, as the Successor of Peter, wished to come in pilgrimage to the 'House of St. James', as it prepares to celebrate the eight-hundredth anniversary of its consecration. I have come to confirm your faith, to stir up your hope and to entrust to the Apostle's intercession your aspirations, struggles and labours in the service of the Gospel. As I embraced the venerable statue of the saint, I also prayed for all the children of the Church, which has her origin in the mystery of the communion that is God".

Benedict XVI explained how the "Church is this embrace of God, in which men and women learn also to embrace their brothers and sisters and to discover in them the divine image and likeness which constitutes the deepest truth of their existence, and which is the origin of genuine freedom.

"Truth and freedom are closely and necessarily related", he added. "Honestly seeking and aspiring to truth is the condition of authentic freedom. One cannot live without the other. The Church, which desires to serve unreservedly the human person and his dignity, stands at the service of both truth and freedom. She cannot renounce either, because what is at stake is man himself, because she is moved by love for man, 'the only creature on earth which God has wanted for its own sake', and because without this aspiration for truth, justice and freedom, man would lose his very self.

The Pope continued: "From Compostela, the spiritual heart of Galicia and at the same time a school of unbounded universality, allow me to exhort all the faithful of this beloved archdiocese, and those of the Church in Spain, to live their lives enlightened by the truth of Christ, confessing the faith with joy, consistency and simplicity, at home, at work and in their commitment as citizens.

"May the joy of knowing that you are God's beloved children bring you to an ever deeper love for the Church and to co-operate with her in her work of leading all men and women to Christ", the Holy Father told the faithful. "Pray to the Lord of the harvest that many young people will devote themselves to this mission in the priestly ministry and in the consecrated life. Today, it is as worthwhile as ever to dedicate one's whole life to the
proclamation of the newness of the Gospel.

"I cannot conclude without first expressing my appreciation and gratitude to the Catholics of Spain for the generosity with which they support so many institutions of charity and of human development. Continue to maintain these works which benefit society as a whole, and whose effectiveness has been shown in a special way in the present economic crisis, as well as when grave natural disasters have affected certain countries".

Speaking then in Galician, Pope Benedict asked "Almighty God to grant all of you the boldness which St. James showed in bearing witness to the Risen Christ. In this way, may you remain faithful in the ways of holiness and spend yourselves for the glory of God and the good of our brothers and sisters in greatest need".

Having concluded his remarks the Pope placed some incense in the "botafumeiro", the cathedral's thurible, which is used during important ceremonies and is famous for its enormous size. Operated by eight men known as " tiraboleiros", it swings back and forth as the hymn of the Apostle James is sung and always arouses the admiration of pilgrims. The current botafumeiro is made of gilded brass, it is 1.1 metres high and weighs 50 kilos. It was constructed in Santiago in the middle of last century.

After the ceremony, the Pope went to the archbishopric where he had lunch with Spanish cardinals, the executive committee of the Spanish Episcopal Conference and members of his entourage.

Source: VIS
Share:  Bookmark and Share
Tags: Pope Benedict, Santiago de Compostela


Powered by Bondware
News Publishing Software

The browser you are using is outdated!

You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!

Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: