"Farewell, Spain! Farewell, Land of Mary!"

At Close of Canonization, Pope Urges the Faithful to Evangelize

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MADRID, Spain, MAY 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II bid Spain farewell at the conclusion of the canonization of five saints and called on the country’s Catholics to become evangelizers.

«I carry you all in my heart,» the Pontiff told the more than 1 million people gathered in Columbus Square and adjacent streets. «The memory of these days will become a prayer for you for fraternal coexistence, encouraged by a Christian hope that does not let one down.

«And with great affection, I say to you, as I did the first time: Farewell, Spain! Farewell, land of Mary!»

Seeing the multitudes before him, John Paul II added: «Although you had to make a sacrifice, it was worthwhile. Columbus Square has become a great temple to welcome the celebration, in which we have prayed with devotion and sung with great care.» The pilgrims responded with cheers.

The Pope continued: «We meet in the heart of Madrid, near great museums, libraries and other centers of culture founded on the Christian faith which Spain, part of Europe, with its organization, was able to offer to America and later other parts of the world. Thus, the place evokes the vocation of Spanish Catholics to be builders of Europe and to be in solidarity with the rest of the world.»

«Evangelized Spain. Evangelizing Spain. This is the way,» the Pope said.

After the ceremony, the Pope went to the apostolic nunciature to lunch with the Spanish cardinals, members of the Executive Committee of the Spanish episcopal conference, and cardinals and bishops in the papal entourage.

At 5 p.m. the Pope was scheduled to meet with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia in an audience at the nunciature. He was due to leave for Rome from Madrid’s Barajas airport in the evening.

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