VATICAN CITY, MARCH 2, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has been invited to visit Santiago de Compostela in Spain for the 2010 “Jacobeo” Holy Year, which is under way through to the end of the year.
Alberto Núñez Feijoo, the president of the autonomous community of Galicia, visited the Vatican on Monday to present to the invitation to the Pope. Accompanied by Archbishop Julián Barrio of Santiago de Compostela, the delegation gave the Pontiff the first commemorative medal of the holy year.
The Apostle James the Greater (in Spanish, Santiago) is the patron of Spain. Tradition holds that he evangelized Spain, and his tomb is located in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which is the destination of the historic and popular pilgrimage route El Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. James).
The apostle’s feastday is July 25, and a holy year is celebrated each year that the feast falls on a Sunday, which happens 14 times every century.
This year’s celebration, which began Dec. 31 and will last through to the end of 2010, will be the second “Jacobeo” Holy Year of the third millennium. The next holy year will take place in 2021.
In statements to journalists after the audience, the president expressed the hope that “we will have good news” in regard to the invitation made to the Holy Father. “That news must be confirmed by the Pope and his collaborators,” he said.
Núñez Feijoo explained that during the meeting he was able to communicate to the Pope the importance for Galicia and for the whole of Spain the celebration of the Holy Year of Santiago de Compostela.
“We simply expressed our maximum interest in seeing him in Santiago and I am very satisfied, excited and hopeful in being able to have him [in Santiago], the only holy city, like Rome, that has a confirmed tomb of an apostle.”
“I simply await him as a Galician,” he added.
The delegation also gave the Pontiff a miniature replica of the Botafumeiro (literally smoke-expeller) of the cathedral, and a copy, in Galician, of the Codex Calixtinus, a 12th century manuscript that gave advice to pilgrims following the “Way of St. James.”
The Botafumeiro is a famous incense burner found in the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.
Núñez Feijoo announced that this May an exhibition will open in Rome that will present the life of the first archbishop of Santiago, Archbishop Diego Gelmírez (or Xelmírez, 1059-1139), who promoted the construction of the cathedral, which was consecrated in 1211.
Benedict XVI plans to visit Spain in August, 2011, on the occasion of Madrid’s World Youth Day. The Vatican also confirmed earlier this month that an invitation from Barcelona to consecrate the Sagrada Familia Church, which was designed by Antoni Gaudí.
The Galician delegation hopes that the Pontiff, if unable to travel to Spain this year, would add Santiago de Compostela to his itinerary for 2011. The president also extended an invitation to the Pontiff to be present for the 800th anniversary celebration of the consecration of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
The Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela hosted an international World Youth Day in 1989.