Pope to designate Barcelona church as basilica

Pope Benedict XVI and Barcelona's Church of the Holy Family.
Pope Benedict XVI and Barcelona's Church of the Holy Family.

.- On November 7, the one-of-a-kind Church of the Holy Family, or "Sagrada Familia," will be consecrated by Pope Benedict and also designated as a basilica.

During a press conference regarding the details of the Pope’s visit to Spain, the Archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, said that the church will be designated as a basilica due to its artistic uniqueness.

The church has been under construction intermittently since the death of its designing architect, Antoni Gaudi, in 1926. Cardinal Sistach said on Feb. 17 that although it's still unfinished, both sides of the central nave will be covered by November so the church can be consecrated.

Only 7,000 people will be allowed inside the church for the dedication, although it has room for 10,000.  Giant screens and thousands of chairs will be set up outside to allow up to 500,000 to follow the ceremony.

Cardinal Sistach said the invitations to attend the dedication will be sent to parishes, pastoral councils, priests, diocesan delegations, and especially families, the sick, young people and those with disabilities.

The country's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia also plan on attending the ceremony.

After visiting Santiago de Compostela for the Year of St. James, which is being celebrated in Spain this year, the Pope will travel to Barcelona on November 6 and will spend the night at the cardinal’s residence.

Catalan, Spanish and Latin

At 9:15 a.m. on November 7, the Holy Father will ride through the city in the Popemobile to the Church of the Holy Family, where Mass will begin at 10:00 a.m. 

The Mass will include parts in Catalan, Spanish and Latin, as was the cause for the beatification of Father Josep Tous, celebrated by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

At noon the Pope will pray the Angelus at the church’s nativity scene and then will have lunch with the bishops and the papal entourage of about 50 people.

In the afternoon the Pope is scheduled to meet with children suffering from mental and physical disabilities. “The Pope will be with these families, he will pray with them and listen to them,” Cardinal Sistach said, adding that the Pontiff has expressed his wish that the visit be carried out with “great austerity.”

Dream for 2026

Beyond November's consecration of the church, which will then be able to be used for liturgical celebrations, Cardinal Sistach expressed his “dream” that the construction work began by Antonio Guadi would be completed by 2026, when 100th anniversary of the architect’s death will be celebrated.

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