Pope Benedict XVI dedicates Barcelona's Sagrada Familia

The Church of the Holy Family’s altar was blessed and the church officially dedicated by Pope Benedict XVI on the morning of Nov. 7. The ceremony took place 128 years after the first stone was laid in Barcelona, Spain.

Considering the faith of the church's main architect, Antoni Gaudi, who died in 1926, the Pope said that in a certain sense the dedication of the church is a "high point" of the deep religious history of the Catalonia region where Barcelona is located.

During the dedication rite, the altar and walls of the church were anointed with chrism oil, and incense was burned at the altar.

The Church of the Holy Family – also know as “Sagrada Familia” - "stands as a visible sign of the invisible God, to whose glory these spires rise like arrows pointing towards absolute light and to the One who is Light, Height and Beauty itself," the Pope said.

The structure of the church is steeped in religious symbolism, every element was planned by Gaudi to intertwine the natural and the spiritual. Not all of the decorative spires that shoot up from the roof of the building have been completed, with the largest, the central "Tower of Jesus Christ," still to come. 

By uniting nature, sacred Scripture and the liturgy, explained Pope Benedict, Gaudi "brilliantly helped to build our human consciousness, anchored in the world yet open to God, enlightened and sanctified by Christ."

Turning to the entire Catholic Church, he said she is "nothing" without her foundation in Christ. "He is the rock on which our faith is built," said the Pontiff.

"Building on this faith, let us strive together to show the world the face of God who is love and the only one who can respond to our yearning for fulfillment."

The "great task before us," he said, is "to show everyone that God is a God of peace not of violence, of freedom not of coercion, of harmony not of discord.

"In this sense, I consider that the dedication of this church of the Sagrada Familia is an event of great importance, at a time in which man claims to be able to build his life without God, as if God had nothing to say to him."

In the context of the Holy Family, he asked for greater "care, protection and assistance to families" today, highlighting especially the importance of marriage between man and woman and the protection of human life in all stages.

Both are particularly important issues in Spain which allows same-sex “marriage” and has some of the most liberal abortion legislation in Europe.

"Only where love and faithfulness are present can true freedom come to birth and endure," said the Pope.

Calling for protection from the state for life, marriage and the family he assured that "the Church resists every form of denial of human life and gives its support to everything that would promote the natural order in the sphere of the institution of the family."

At the end of the Mass, Cardinal Martinez Sistach read the Papal Bull, a decree from the Pope's hand, declaring the Sagrada Familia a "minor basilica."

To read the Pope’s full homily, visit: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/spain10/resource.php?res_id=1448

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