Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls in a statement today explained that the award is in recognition “of his personal commitment and the Holy See’s in favor of unity among the peoples of Europe in virtue of the values rooted in human nature and effectively promoted by Christianity.”
The Vatican statement added: “The Holy Father is honored to accept this award, which will be given to him on March 25, 2004, in the Vatican.”
The key historical period of Aachen started with the takeover of the government by Charlemagne in 768. The Imperial Palace by the hot water springs soon became Charlemagne’s permanent residence and so developed into a spiritual and cultural reservoir.
Charlemagne died in 814 and was buried in the Cathedral of Aachen.