Pope Greets Crowd Upon Arrival to Barcelona

Blesses Youth Gathered Outside Archbishop’s Residence

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By Patricia Navas

BARCELONA, Spain, NOV. 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The square in front of the Cathedral of Barcelona vibrated Saturday evening with the cheering of thousands as Benedict XVI’s car arrived at the archbishop’s residence, and with his spontaneous greeting and blessing from the balcony.

Vatican and Spanish flags and those of various ecclesial movements and groups, along with banners with images of Benedict XVI, waved above the crowds, who applauded, sang and chanted phrases such as “Viva el Papa” (long live the Pope), “Sí, sí, sí, el Papa ya está aquí” (yes, yes, the Pope is here), and “Ésta es la juventud del Papa” (this is the youth of the Pope).

The Pope’s car passed in front of the cathedral along a corridor through the crowds, which also stood just a few meters from the archbishop’s residence, where the Holy Father spent the night.

Although it had not been on the official program, which aimed at permitting the Pontiff plenty of rest after his arrival in Barcelona, the doors to the balcony, adorned with the flag of the of the city’s archbishop, immediately opened and a smiling Benedict XVI appeared accompanied by the archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Lluís Martínez Sistach.

They both spoke just a few words, which the people were not able to hear because of a weak public address system and the noise in the cathedral square.

Nevertheless, the crowds were able to see quite well the Pope’s gestures of blessing and greeting, which were followed by applause and cheers.

This exchange was the culmination of an entire afternoon of waiting for many young people — who were eventually joined by families, priests, religious and people of various ages — in a festive atmosphere of prayer and meeting in the cathedral square.

It was a brief moment, but it was the most emotional of the first hours of the Pope’s stay in the Catalan capital, after his 9:06 p.m. arrival from Santiago de Compostela at the El Prat Airport, where, exiting the plane, he greeted those present and was briefly welcomed by officials.

Bishop Agustín Cortés of Sant Feliu de Llobregat, the mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, the president of the Generalitat de Catalunya, José Montilla, and the delegate of the Spanish government in Catalonia, Joan Rangel, were among the officials who greeted him at the airport.

The Pope quickly entered the car that took him to the archbishop’s palace in Barcelona, where he dined and spent the night.

Afternoon of waiting

Already at 5 p.m., several hundred young people were dancing in front of the Barcelona cathedral in Plaza Cataluña, some wearing the colors of the Vatican flag.

There and at other points in the city’s center various groups gathered to direct others to the square to participate in welcoming the Pope.

An unofficial commission of young people representing various ecclesial movements, parishes and other groups, led the crowds and also organized the recitation of the rosary.

Every decade of the traditional prayer was led the members of a movement, with mediations by a priest and songs projected with the help of megaphones.

“We young people have gathered here so that the Holy Father feels welcomed with the warmth of the youth to Barcelona, a very arid and very complicated place,” Myriam Puñet, one of the young women who helped organize the gathering, told ZENIT.

“We have convoked this rosary to prepare hearts for this very quick but, we hope, very fruitful and historical gathering,” she added.

To spread the news about the gathering, the young organizers mostly used the Internet and the more traditional method of word of mouth.

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