.- A Vatican official celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving on June 25 after the Shrine of St. John of Avila in Spain was elevated by Pope Benedict to the status of a Minor Basilica.
Cardinal Antonio Canizares, who serves as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, said the move has strengthened the bond between the shrine and the Pope.
“This temple shall be especially linked to Pope Benedict XVI and his successors,” the cardinal said during the Mass, which was also attended by Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba and Archbishop Juan Jose Asenjo of Sevilla.
Cardinal Canizares also praised locals for preserving the shrine, where the remains of St. John of Avila are interred. He called the saint “a holy man who loved the Church so much.”
“We find ourselves before the urgency of a New Evangelization that can’t be delayed any longer,” the cardinal stated, adding that the patron saint of diocesan clergy “has a lot to say to us” in this regard.
“The world needs the Gospel, otherwise it has no future,” he continued. “What St. John of Avila did in the 16th century is what needs to be done today in the world.”
For his part, Bishop Fernandez said the elevation of the shrine to a Minor Basilica is “an exceptional event for the Diocese of Cordoba.”
He voiced hope that the designation would inspire many of the faithful to travel to Rome for the declaration of St. John of Avila as Doctor of the Church on October 17 and to participate with greater devotion in the Jubilee Year which will begin on October 12.