BARCELONA, Spain, NOV. 7, 2010 ( Benedict XVI left Spain today, but not before looking forward to his next visit to the country next summer.

"I return to Rome after visiting only two places in this beautiful country," the Pope said at the departing ceremony held at the Barcelona International Airport, but noted that, God willing, "we will meet again next year in Madrid, to celebrate World Youth Day."

The next youth day is set to take place Aug. 16-21, 2011.

In his address, the Holy Father also reflected on his brief two-day trip to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona.

In Santiago de Compostela, he visited the tomb of Apostle James the Greater (in Spanish, Santiago), which is located in the crypt of the city's cathedral. Since the 10th and 11th centuries, the tomb has been the destination of the historic and popular pilgrimage route El Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. James).
Benedict XVI said that he traveled to Compostela "as a pilgrim," and that as Pope he came "to strengthen my brothers and sisters in the faith that at the very dawn of Christianity came to these lands and took such deep root that it has constantly shaped the spirit, customs, art and character of its peoples."

"The preservation of this rich spiritual patrimony demonstrates the love of your country for its history and culture," he said, "yet it is also a privileged way of transmitting to younger generations those fundamental values so necessary for building up a common future of harmony and solidarity."

The Pontiff noted that while "the paths that cross Europe on the way to Santiago differed greatly, each marked by its own language and its particular characteristics, [...] the faith was the same. There was a common language, the Gospel of Christ.

"In any place pilgrims could feel at home. Beyond national differences, they knew that they were members of one great family to which the other pilgrims and people along the way also belonged."

"May this faith find new vigor on this continent and become a source of inspiration," he added. "May it give rise to an attitude of solidarity toward all, especially towards those communities and nations in greater need."

Monument of praise

In Barcelona, the Pope consecrated the altar of the Church of the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family), and designated it a basilica. The Pope said it was an "immense joy" for him to dedicate the church, which he said "Gaudí conceived as a monument of praise in stone to God."

He also visited the "Obra Benefico-Social Nen Deu" (social charity God-Child), a charity of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Hearts that dates back to 1892.

The Holy Father said that the Holy Family Basilica and Nen Deu "stand in today’s Barcelona as two symbols of the fruitfulness of that faith which has marked this people deeply and which, through charity and the mystery of God’s beauty, contributes to the creation of a society more worthy of man."

"Truly, beauty, holiness and the love of God enable people to live with hope in this world," the Pontiff added.

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