Pope Benedict XVI has arrived. His ‘plane touched down in Madrid at noon (Spanish time). According to WYD website the Holy father appeared energetic as he made his way down the stairs of the Alitalia aircraft, smiling as he greeted the waiting dignitaries. Halfway down the red carpet he stopped to greet the military guard with a quick bow.
A group of 56 boys aged 10 and 13 dressed as Swiss Guards acted as honour guards on the red carpet .
The Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid, Antonio Rouco Varela and Spain’s King Juan Carlos waiting on the tarmack to recieve the Holy Father on his third visit to the country.
Best formed youth
King Juan Carlos made a brief speech welcoming the pope to Spain. He recalled Pope John Paul II’s third visit to Spain, which as also for World Youth Day.
The king said this generation of Spanish youth are the “best formed” but also are in much need of help and support from their elders during this difficult moment when many find themselves unemployed and seemingly without hope.
Pope Benedict then took the podium, thanking the king for his words. “I have come here to meet thousands of young people from around the world,” he said, thanking the schools, parishes and other institutions that opened their doors to house those young people this week.
Voice of God
He said said those young people are in Madrid because they “have heard the voice of God, perhaps only as a little whisper, which has lead them to search for Him more dilligently.” The pope also said there are reasons for concern, chief among them “the desire for the betterment of all Spaniards with that dynamism which caracterizes them.”
The Holy Father addressed youth directly saying, “I repeat to you again, nothing and no one can take away the peace that comes from the Lord”
Following the address Pope Benedict and King Juan Carlos retreated to the State Pavillion where they met privately for about five minutes before the Holy Father boarded his Popemobile for the 20 km journey to the Nunciature, where he will be staying during his time in Madrid.
After the Mass the Pope mobile drove through the streets to Plaza de Cibeles, on the way the Pope was greeted by cheering pilgrims – with many Westminster groups in the crowds.
The Archbishop of Madrid greeted Pope Benedict. The text is here.
The welcome text is here.
The Pope also greeted all the youth, but in their different languages! His greetings can be read here.
Tomorrow the Pope meets women religious, and university professors. In the evening we’ll be back in the centre of Madrid for Via Crucis – the Way of the Cross. This is a traditional in Spain normally saved for Holy Week. The cross will stop at 14 stations around the historical part of Madrid stopping at designated points, the cross will finish in Plaza de Cibeles. The cross being used has been travelling around different countries before making its journey back to Spain.
I am also speaking at a WYD event, iCat tomorrow – wish me luck!