.- The Holy See has announced the official schedule for the Pope's visit to the Spanish cities of Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona this fall. Accompanying the announcement were messages from the archbishops of the two cities inviting the involvement of the faithful to support the Holy Father spiritually and physically.
Later this fall, the Holy Father will make a two-day tour of two of Spain's most attractive sites. The Holy See's Press Office announced the schedule for the quick visit in its Friday bulletin.
Arriving in Northwestern Spain's pilgrim destination, Santiago de Compostela on Nov. 6, the Holy Father will first meet with the Prince of Spain and his family before moving on to the cathedral where St. James remains are entombed.
After greeting the faithful there, he will have lunch with Spanish prelates at the Archbishop of Santiago's residence before celebrating a Mass for the pilgrimage site's jubilee year just outside the cathedral in the enormous Obradoiro Square.
He will head across the country by plane to Barcelona later that evening to be well rested for the next morning's events. The first item on his morning schedule is a private meeting with the Spanish Monarchs in the Museum Hall of the "Sagrada Familia" (Holy Family) Church. Following this meeting, he will celebrate Mass there, and in doing so will make the church a basilica and consecrate its altar.
Immediately afterward, he will step into the adjoining square to pray the Angelus and address the faithful and pilgrims. After meeting again with Spanish prelates for lunch, he plans visit a center of education for disabled adults before taking off again for Rome.
During his homily at Mass on Friday morning, Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona, Lluis Martinez Sistach, welcomed the visit and called the dedication of the church of the "Sagrada Familia" an invitation to all Christian families to be "a sanctuary of living rocks." He explained that this meant being "a domestic Church, in which the richness of marriage between a man and a woman is lived, in that which every day a community of life and love is built, open to fruitfulness and life."
In this context of a society which is "more human and more respectful of human rights," he said that the visit to the home for the disabled is all the more significant. Working in service of those affected by Down's syndrome and other disabilities, the cardinal said that it is "a work that is the expression of a true merciful spirit.
"In visiting this work, the Pope wishes to give homage and encourage in their work all (realities) that work with this same spirit and these same purposes."
As for the stop in Santiago, Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela Julian Barrio implored physical and spiritual participation of the faithful in the events of the Pope's visit. In a pastoral letter to the archdiocese, he encouraged fasting on Nov. 5, the day before Benedict XVI's arrival, and an offering to the local chapter of Caritas for the care of the needy.
Archbishop Barrio promoted all manner of support for the trip through the Church as well, encouraging participation in Masses throughout the archdiocese for the intentions of the Pope. He also asked that Rosaries be prayed for the spiritual fruits of the visit and that catecheses and pastoral initiatives be organized in light of the Pope's arrival.