Barcelona prepares itself to host Benedict XVI
On the 6th and 7th of November, the Holy Father Benedict XVI will honour us with an apostolic visit to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona. He will arrive on Saturday the 6th in the evening. He will spend the night in the Episcopal Palace. It will be a great honour for me, as Archbishop of Barcelona, to host the Holy Father.
On Sunday the 7th of November in the early morning, the Pope will go to the Sagrada Família Temple. There, at 9:30 am in the Temple’s Museum room, he will have an interview with the King and Queen of Spain. At 10 am, the Eucharistic ceremony to dedicate the temple to God will begin. The Pope will declare the Sagrada Família a basilica, which was not possible earlier as the title of “basilica” can only be given to churches that offer liturgical worship services. This solemn dedication ceremony – which is substantially a mass celebration with rituals regarding the altar and the church’s benedictions – is expected to end at 12 pm. Then, from the Birth Façade, the Holy Father will pray the Angelus.
After this, he will come back to the Archbishop’s seat to share lunch with the cardinals, archbishops and bishops present during the morning event. In the afternoon, he will head to the Guinardó neighbourhood to visit the Charity-Social Work of the Archdiocese of Barcelona. This centenary work has lately specialised in the attention and promotion of boys and girls with Down’s syndrome or other disabilities. This visit will complete and complement the morning one. The Holy Father wants to unite, in his dominical visit to our city, the dedication to God of the architect Antoni Gaudí’s wonderful temple, dedicated to the Sagrada Família, with a homage to the families that have children with disabilities. During this event, the pupils of this centre will offer several gifts to the Holy Father, which they have prepared with a great deal of thrill. The Holy Father will stay with them and their families for a long time and will address a few words with them.
His visit to the charity wants to acknowledge the work that the organisation has carried out for more than a hundred years, but also to acknowledge and push for all the institutions that perform a similar mission, whether civil or from the Church.
I finish this text with a petition to those who have been so kind to read this article published on this new technologies’ display. The Holy Father will leave the Vatican to come to visit us. I invite you to follow to his kindness towards Barcelona by going out from your homes, leaving your villages and cities, personally participating in the dedication of the Sagrada Família Temple, and waving to him on the streets and squares where he will be passing by. I invite you all to do so from his arrival to the moment he leaves Barcelona.
He comes to us to confirm the Catholic community’s faith, to encourage all the citizens to live in the mutual respect, in justice and in peace. By coming to visit us, he will put our dear city at the attention and focus of the whole world. He is coming for an act in God’s honour, as is the dedication of a church, but his presence in this act honours at the same time, a great Catalan, a genius architect and a model Christian, Antoni Gaudí, who has his canonization cause already introduced and has become a true “universal Catalan”.
Lluís Martínez Sistach
Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona