Jul 24, 2005 / 22:00 pm
Speaking before yesterday’s Angelus prayer to a group if some 8,000 pilgrims in Les Combes, in Italy’s Valle d’Aosta, where he is vacationing, the Holy Father recalled Europe’s deeply Christian roots and challenged the continent to return to them.
Pope Benedict noted today’s feast of the Apostle James, "whose relics are venerated in the famous shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the destination of countless pilgrims from all over Europe.” He also recalled Friday‘s feast day of St. Bridget of Sweden, patroness of Europe, and the July 11th feast of St. Benedict, who he called “another great patron of the ‘old continent.”
“Contemplating these saints,” he said, “it is natural to pause and reflect on the contribution that Christianity has made, and continues to make, to the building of Europe.”
Benedict then turned to the pilgrimage made by "Servant of God John Paul II in 1982 to Santiago de Compostela, where he performed a solemn 'European act' during which he pronounced these memorable words: 'I, bishop of Rome and pastor of the Universal Church, from Santiago, address to you, old Europe, a cry full of love: Return to yourself! Be yourself! Discover your origins. Revive your roots. Experience again those authentic values that made your history glorious and your presence in other continents beneficial."