By Carmen Elena Villa
SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain, JULY 6, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's trip to Spain this year for the jubilee year celebrating the Apostle James is a first in history -- a Pope has never expressly gone to Spain for the event.
Benedict XVI will arrive in Santiago on Nov. 6, Archbishop Julián Barrio Barrio affirmed on Tuesday at a press conference regarding the papal visit.
The Santiago prelate noted the uniqueness of the trip: "It is the first time in the history of the Church that in a holy year the Pope has wished to come expressly," said the archbishop, who clarified that Pope John Paul II visited this city in 1982 -- which was also a jubilee year -- "but he did so on the occasion of the pastoral visit he made that year to Spain. On this occasion the Pope has wished to come expressly. Hence the exceptional nature of this event."
There is a jubilee year in celebration of the apostle -- known as a Jacobeo year -- every time his July 25 feast day falls on a Sunday.
Welcomed in Spain
While the Vatican will announce the official program in September, the archbishop said the papal visit will include three public ceremonies: the first will be his arrival ceremony.
"We want the Pope, as pilgrim of the faith and witness of the Risen Christ, to find here in us the best welcome and the best hospitality that we can really offer him," said Archbishop Barrio Barrio.
After going to the city in the popemobile, Benedict XVI will enter the cathedral, where he will have moments of prayer, including before the place where, according to tradition, the Apostle James rests. He will also address a few words to those present.
Children, elderly and the sick will attend this ceremony.
Then he will go to the archbishopric's palace to have lunch and to rest before presiding over a Mass in Obradoiro Square.
In the late afternoon, the Pontiff will return to the airport, where he will be seen off by a small number of authorities.
Archbishop Barrio spoke of the fruits of the Pope's visit to Santiago de Compostela: "We will go discovering [them] not only in the course of this year but above all in years to come."
And he asserted that Benedict XVI is very conscious of what Santiago means for the renewal of Europe. That is why "he did not want to miss this occasion, which is to show us this reality with his gesture," he opined.
The archbishop of Santiago concluded by affirming his hope that the Pope will find "a presence, the greatest possible, to be able to manifest also our hospitality, our availability, and to tell the Holy Father that, in the little or much that we can do, he can count on us in this moment of this pilgrim Church, which must journey between God's consolations and the world's disturbances."
By Carmen Elena Villa