Pope: On Pilgrimage One Meets God

Holy Father Visits Tomb of St. James in Compostela

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SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain, NOV. 6, 2010 (Zenit.org).- To go on a pilgrimage is much more than going on a trip; it is to travel to a place where God has revealed himself in order to encounter the divine, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today in a reflection on what it means to go on a pilgrimage, which he gave during a visit to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which holds the remains of Apostle James the Greater (in Spanish, Santiago), who is the patron of Spain.

As the Holy Father made his way this morning to the tomb of St. James, which since the 10th and 11th centuries has been the destination of the historic and popular pilgrimage route El Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. James), he was warmly greeted warmly by Spanish faithful who lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the Pontiff.

The Pope traveled to the cathedral from the airport in the popemobile, accompanied by Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, his secretary, and Archbishop Julián Barrio of Santiago. Pilgrims greeted the Pope with Vatican flags, balloons, bagpipes, and even a shower of red and white carnations.

Upon reaching the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the Pope was clothed with the traditional pilgrim’s habit of Compostela — a black cloak adorned with a red cross and a scallop shell — passed through the Holy Door, entered the crypt of the church, and gave the traditional embrace of the statue of St. James.

The Holy Door is currently open for the 2010 Holy Year of Compostela (known also in Spanish as the «Jacobeo» Holy Year), which is under way through to the end of the year. The feast day of the Apostle James is July 25, and a holy year is celebrated each year that the feast falls on a Sunday, which happens 14 times every century.

Benedict XVI said in his address that he wished to make the pilgrimage in this year to the «House of St. James,» especially as the cathedral prepares to celebrate the 800th anniversary of its completion next year.


«To go on pilgrimage,» the Holy Father reflected, «is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history. To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendor and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe.

«I have come to confirm your faith,» he said, «to stir up your hope and to entrust to the Apostle’s intercession your aspirations, struggles and labors in the service of the Gospel.»

The Pope said that when he embraced the statue of St. James, he prayed for the entire Church, which has its origin «in the mystery of the communion that is God.»

«Through faith,» he continued, «we are introduced to the mystery of love that is the Most Holy Trinity. We are in some sense embraced by God, transformed by his love.

«The Church is this embrace of God, in which men and women learn also to embrace their brothers and sisters and to discover in them the divine image and likeness which constitutes the deepest truth of their existence, and which is the origin of genuine freedom.»

Benedict XVI asserted that truth and freedom are «necessarily related.» «Honestly seeking and aspiring to truth is the condition of authentic freedom,» he added. «One cannot live without the other.»

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-30872?l=english

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