In his weekly general audience at the Vatican on Nov. 10, Pope Benedict XVI described his recent pilgrimage to Spain as "unforgettable days which will remain inscribed in my heart."
"I went there to strengthen my brothers and sisters in the faith, and I did so as a witness of the Risen Christ and a sower of the hope that does not disappoint and does not fail," the Pope said of his Nov. 6-7 pastoral voyage.
The Pope met with pilgrims in the shelter of the Paul VI Hall on a blustery morning in Rome. Large groups of pilgrims attended from the Czech Republic and the Italian city of Carpineto Romano. They came to thank the Pope for visiting them during his pontificate.
In his remarks, the Pope repeated the core of his message while in Spain, which was to urge Europe to return to its Christian roots and "to open itself to God and so favor prospects for authentic and respectful encounter, united with peoples and civilizations of other continents."
The Pope told the audience that Santiago de Compostela, the traditional pilgrimage destination that he visited is “an extraordinary spiritual place which continues to be a landmark for Europe today."
He said that the Basilica of the Holy Family in Barcelona, which he consecrated during the visit, was an “immense catechesis on Jesus Christ, as a hymn of praise to the Creator."
He praised the basilica’s architect, Antonio Gaudi, for “expressing the unfathomable mystery of God in material reality.”
The Pope also underscored his defense of human dignity while visiting Nen Deu (Child of God), a Church-run home for needy children in Barcelona.
"Everything done to support marriage and the family, to help people in need, everything that serves to enhance man's greatness and his inviolable dignity, also helps to perfect society," he said.