.- Father Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican's press office, said Pope Benedict XVI wanted to leave “a sign of his presence and his word for the entire continent” during his visit to Mexico last March.
In an interview with CNA, the spokesman called Mexico the ideal place for this gesture, “because it is a central place of devotion, faith and Latin American culture thanks to the presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe, joined to a great tradition of faith.”
“From Mexico, the Pope sent this message to all the peoples of Latin America, especially the Spanish-speaking ones,” he said. “For this reason, this trip was not only to Mexico and Leon but to the entire continent.”
Fr. Lombardi, who had visited Mexico previously for the canonization of St. Juan Diego in July of 2002, said the country “loves the Pope a lot.”
“This nation has welcomed the last two Popes with great affection, with great enthusiasm. It is a nation with very profound spiritual roots that are expressed in a very spontaneous and authentic way.”
Fr. Lombardi noted that the expectations for Pope Benedict XVI's March 23-25 visit Mexico were surpassed because of the affection and love the Mexican people displayed for him.
He said two particularly moving moments were the Mass in Leon celebrated before half a million people and the serenade by a Mariachi band outside the school in Miraflores.
As the Pope greeted the musicians, he donned a Mexican hat and said he now understood “why my predecessor (Blessed John Paul II) said, 'I am a Mexican.'”