Vatican City (Fides Service) – During the general audience of Wednesday 7 May in St Peter’s Square Pope John Paul II spoke of his recent visit to Spain (3 and 4 May): “From the moment of my arrival I had the opportunity to express the esteem of the Successor of Peter for that portion of the People of God – for two thousand years almost – is a pilgrim in Iberia and has played an important role in the evangelisation of Europe and the world. At the same time I wanted to manifest my appreciation for the social progress made by the country inviting it to found them increasingly on those authentic and perennial values which constitute the precious heritage of the entire continent of Europe.
The Holy Father then recalled the main events of his pilgrimage: the meeting with young people and the Mass with the canonisation of five new Saints. “I invited the young people to be ever more men and women of robust interiority, contemplating assiduously together with Mary, Christ and his mysteries – the Pope said - . I then saw with joy that the young people among their peers are ever more able to be protagonists in the new evangelisation, ready to spend their energies at the service of Christ and his kingdom”. The following day, there was the solemn celebration of Mass during which the Pope canonised five new Spanish Saints: “These authentic disciples of Christ, witnesses of his Resurrection are an example for Christians all over the world: drawing through prayer the necessary strength they fulfilled the tasks entrusted to them by God in the contemplative life, the pastoral ministry, the field of educaiton, the apostolate of spiritual exercises, in charity towards the poor”.
Lastly the Holy Father concluded: “This fifth apostolic journey in Spain confirmed my profound conviction: that ancient nations of Europe still have a Christian soul which is all one with the history of the respective peoples. Unfortunately secularism threatens its fundamental values, but the Church intends to work to maintain continually alive these spiritual and cultural traditions.” SL (Fides Service 8/5/2003 EM lines 25 Words: 353)