John Paul II's 5th Apostolic Visit to Spain
3rd - 4th May June 1993
During his 99th apostolic journey, Blessed John Paul II visited Madrid, meeting with young people and canonizing 5 Spanish saints: St Peter Poveda, St José María Rubio, St Genoveva Torres, St Angela of the Cross & St Maravillas of Jesus.
"At this supremely important time for the consolidation of a united Europe, I would like to recall the words with which I took my leave from Santiago de Compostela at the end of my 1st apostolic trip on Spanish territory in 1982. From there I encouraged Europe with a cry full of love, reminding it of its rich and fruitful Christian roots: "Europe, find yourself again. Be yourself... Revive your roots!" I am certain that Spain will contribute the rich cultural and historical legacy of its Catholic roots and its own values to the integration of a Europe which, in the plurality of its cultures and respecting the identity of its member States, seeks a unity based on criteria and principles in which the integral good of its citizens holds sway."
Blessed John Paul II's Meeting with Young People
Dear Young People, dear friends: I am back with you again. We know one another from previous meetings, such as the one in Toronto, Canada. I embrace each one of you.
1. I greet you affectionately, young people of Madrid and Spain! Many of you have come from far away, from all the dioceses and regions of the country, and from America and other countries of the world. I am deeply touched by your warm and cordial welcome. I confess to you that I have been looking forward very much to this meeting with you.
I greet you and I repeat to you the same words I used when I addressed the young people in Santiago Bernabéu Stadium during my first visit to Spain more than 20 years ago: "You are the hope of the Church and of society... I continue to believe in young people, in you." (1982)
I embrace you with great affection, and with you, I also greet the Bishops, priests and other pastoral collaborators who accompany you on your journey of faith. ..
2. Dear young people, the grace of God must shine forth in your lives, as it shone in Mary, full of grace.
At this vigil you have fittingly wished to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary, putting into practice the ancient spiritual maxim: "To Jesus through Mary". Undoubtedly, in the Rosary we learn from Mary to contemplate the beauty of the face of Christ, and to feel the depth of his love. As we begin this prayer, therefore, let us turn our gaze to the Mother of the Lord and ask her to guide us to her Son Jesus:
"Queen of Heaven, rejoice!
For Christ whom you did merit to bear in your womb has risen! Alleluia!".
1. Led by the hand of the Virgin Mary and accompanied by the example and intercession of the new Saints, we have revisited in prayer several moments in the life of Jesus.
Indeed, in its simplicity and depth the Rosary is a true compendium of the Gospel and leads to the very heart of the Christian message: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3: 16).
Mary, in addition to being our Mother who is close, discreet and understanding, is the best teacher for achieving knowledge of the truth through contemplation. The drama of contemporary culture is the lack of interiority, the absence of contemplation. Without interiority culture has no content; it is like a body that has not yet found its soul. What can humanity do without interiority?
Unfortunately, we know the answer very well. When the contemplative spirit is missing, life is not protected and all that is human is denigrated. Without interiority, modern man puts his own integrity at risk.
2. Dear young people, I invite you to be part of the "School of the Virgin Mary". She is the incomparable model of contemplation and wonderful example of fruitful, joyful and enriching interiority. She will teach you never to separate action from contemplation, so as to contribute to making a great dream come true: the birth of the new Europe in the spirit. A Europe that is faithful to its Christian roots, not closed in on itself but open to dialogue and collaboration with the other peoples of the earth; a Europe aware that it is called to be the beacon of civilization and an incentive to progress for the world, determined to combine its efforts and its creativity to serve peace and solidarity among peoples.
3. Beloved young people, you know well how concerned I am for peace in the world. The spiral of violence, terrorism and war still causes hatred and death, even in our day. Peace, as we know, is first of all a gift from on High for which we must constantly ask and which, furthermore, we must all build together by means of a profound inner conversion. Consequently, today I want to exhort you to work to build peace and be artisans of peace. Respond to blind violence and inhuman hatred with the fascinating power of love. Overcome enmity with the force of forgiveness. Keep far away from any form of exasperated nationalism, racism and intolerance.
Witness with your life that ideas are not imposed but proposed. Never let yourselves be discouraged by evil! For this you will need the help of prayer and the consolation that is born from an intimate friendship with Christ. Only in this way, living the experience of God's love and radiating Gospel fellowship, will you be able to be the builders of a better world, genuine peaceful and peacemaking men and women.
4. Tomorrow I will have the joy of canonizing 5 new Saints, sons and daughters of this noble nation and of this Church. They "were young like you, full of energy, joy and love of life. Their encounter with Christ transformed their lives.... Thus, they were enabled to attract other young people, their friends, and to create associations for prayer, evangelization and charity which still endure."
Dear young people, go forward with confidence to meet Jesus! And like the new Saints, do not be afraid to talk about him! For Christ is the true answer to all questions about man and his destiny. You young people must become the apostles of your peers. I know well that this is not easy. You will often be tempted to say like the Prophet Jeremiah: "Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth" (Jer 1: 6). Do not be disheartened for you are not alone: the Lord will always accompany you, with his grace and the gift of his Spirit.
5. The Lord's faithful presence makes you capable of taking on the commitment of the new evangelization, to which all the Church's children are called. It is a task for all. Lay people play a lead role in it, especially husbands and wives and Christian families; nevertheless, today evangelization urgently needs priests and consecrated people. This is why I want to say to each one of you, young people: if you hear the call of God that says to you: "Follow me!" (Mk 2: 14; Lk 5: 27), do not silence his call. Be generous, respond like Mary, offering God the joyful "yes" of yourself and your life.
I give you my own witness: I was ordained a priest when I was 26 years old. 56 years have passed since then. So how old is the Pope? Almost 83! A young man of 83! Looking back and remembering those years of my life, I can assure you that it is worthwhile dedicating oneself to the cause of Christ and, out of love for him, devoting oneself to serving humanity. It is worthwhile to give one's life for the Gospel and for one's brothers and sisters! How many hours are there still to go until midnight? 3 hours. Just 3 hours until midnight and then comes morning.
6. To conclude, I would like to call on Mary, the shining star that announces the Sun that is born from on High, Jesus Christ:
Hail, Mary, full of grace!
This evening I pray to you for the youth of Spain,
young people full of dreams and hopes.
They are the dawn watchmen,
the people of the beatitudes;
they are the living hope of the Church and of the Pope.
Holy Mary, Mother of the young,
intercede so that they may be witnesses of the Risen Christ,
humble and courageous apostles of the third millennium,
generous heralds of the Gospel.
Holy Mary, Immaculate Virgin,
pray with us,
pray for us. Amen.
JPII - Air Base of Cuatro Vientos, Madrid - Saturday, 3 May 2003
Blessed John Paul II's Homily at Canonization Mass
1. "You are witnesses of these things" (cf Lk 24: 46-48), Jesus said to his apostles in the Gospel account just proclaimed. This was a difficult and demanding mission, entrusted to men who did not dare to show themselves in public for fear of being recognized as disciples of the Nazarene. Nevertheless, the first reading presented to us Peter who, once he received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, has the courage to proclaim the Resurrection of Jesus to the people and urge them to repent and convert.
Since then the Church, with the power of the Holy Spirit, continues to announce this extraordinary news to all people of all times. And the Successor of Peter, a pilgrim on Spanish soil, repeats to you: Spain, following a past of courageous evangelization, continue today to be witnesses of the risen Christ!
2. I greet with affection all the people of God who have come from the different regions of the Country and have gathered here to participate in this solemn celebration. ..
3. The new Saints are presented to us today as true disciples of the Lord and witnesses of his Resurrection.
St Peter Poveda, grasping the importance of the role of education in society, undertook an important humanitarian and educational task among the marginalized and the needy. He was a master of prayer, a teacher of the Christian life and of the relationship between faith and knowledge, convinced that Christians must bring essential values and commitment to building a world that is more just and mutually supportive. His life ended with the crown of martyrdom.
St José María Rubio lived his priesthood first as a diocesan priest and then as a Jesuit, giving himself totally to the apostolate of the Word and of the Sacraments, dedicating long hours to the confessional and directing numerous spiritual retreats in which he formed many Christians who would later die as martyrs in the religious persecution in Spain. "Do what God wants and want what God does!" was his motto.
4. St Genoveva Torres was an instrument of God's tender love for lonely people in need of love, comfort and physical and spiritual care. The characteristic note that fuelled her spirituality was adoration of the Eucharist for the expiation of sins, which formed the basis of an apostolate full of humility and simplicity, of self-denial and charity.
Love and sensitivity to the poor likewise prompted St Angela of the Cross to found her "Company of the Cross" for the most deprived with a charitable and social dimension that made an enormous impact on the Church and society of Seville in her day. Her distinctive traits were naturalness and simplicity, seeking holiness with a spirit of mortification and at the service of God in her brothers and sisters.
St Maravillas of Jesus was motivated by a heroic faith that shaped her response to an austere vocation, in which she made God the centre of her life. Having overcome the painful circumstances of the Spanish Civil War, she established new foundations for the Order of Carmel, imbued with the characteristic spirit of the Teresian reform. Her life of contemplation and monastic enclosure did not prevent her from responding to the needs of the people she dealt with and promoting social and charitable works around her.
5. The new Saints have very concrete faces and their history is well known. What is their message? Their works, which we admire and for which we thank God, are not due to their own efforts nor to human wisdom but to the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit who inspired in them an unshakeable adherence to the risen and crucified Christ and the decision to imitate him. Dear Catholic faithful of Spain: let yourselves be influenced by these marvellous examples!
In giving thanks to the Lord for the many gifts he has poured out upon Spain, I invite you to pray with me that new saints continue to flourish in this land. Other fruits of holiness will be produced if the ecclesial communities remain faithful to the Gospel which, in accordance with a venerable tradition, has been preached since the earliest times of Christianity and has been preserved down the ages.
New fruits of holiness will be produced if the family remains united as a true shrine of love and life. "Christian and Catholic faith constitute the identity of the Spanish people", I said on the occasion of my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (1982).
To know and to deepen a people's past means to strengthen and enrich their very identity. Do not abandon your Christian roots! Only in this way will you be able to bring the cultural riches of your history to the world and to Europe.
6. "Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" (Lk 24: 45). The risen Christ enlightens the Apostles so that their proclamation can be understood and transmitted intact to all the generations, so that man, in hearing may believe, in believing, hope, and in hoping, love (St Augustine). In proclaiming the risen Jesus Christ, the Church desires to announce a way of hope to all men and women, and to accompany them to the encounter with Christ.
In celebrating this Mass, I invoke upon you all the great gift of fidelity to your Christian commitments. May God the Father grant it to you through the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin, who is venerated in Spain under many titles, and of the Saints.
JPII - Third Sunday of Easter, 4 May 2003, Plaza de Colón, Madrid
"At the end of this celebration during which I canonized 5 new Saints, I would like to thank God who enabled me to make my 5th apostolic journey to your nation, a land of faithful children of the Church which has produced so many saints and missionaries. The theme of my first visit was: "Witness of hope", and this time it was "You will be my witnesses". Always remember that the badge of Christians is their authentic and courageous witness of Jesus Christ, who died and rose for our salvation.
I would like to repeat my thanks to Their Majesties the King & Queen of Spain and to the Royal Family present here, to the President of the Government and to the Nation's Authorities for their help. I express special gratitude to the Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid and to all the other Bishops of Spain for their invitation and welcome, as well as to everyone who provided a generous service before and during my Visit.
I also greet with deep affection the many priests, the Religious, the many young people, the families and men and women of good will. I am carrying back with me the memory of your faces full of hope, which I encountered in these days, and your commitment to Jesus Christ and his Gospel.
You are the depositaries of a rich spiritual heritage which must revitalize your Christian life, along with your great love for the Church and for the Successor of Peter.
With open arms I will hold you all in my heart. The memory of these days will become my prayer as I ask for peace in fraternal coexistence for you all, encouraged by Christian hope that never disappoints. And I say to you with great affection, as I did the first time, "¡Hasta siempre España! ¡Hasta siempre, tierra de María!"
Thank you for coming here today, you who have come from all parts of the Spanish territory. Even if it cost you a sacrifice, it was worth it.
Today Plaza de Colón has been transformed into a great church in order to accomodate this solemn celebration, during which we prayed with devotion and sang with enthusiasm.
We are meeting in the heart of Madrid, close to important museums, libraries and other centres of culture founded on the Christian faith, which Spain, as a part of Europe, was later able to offer to America with its evangelization and subsequently, to other parts of the world. Thus, the place evokes the vocation of Spanish Catholics to be builders of Europe in solidarity with the rest of the world.
Spain evangelized and evangelizing Spain, this is the way forward. Do not neglect this mission which ennobled your Country in the past and is the bold challenge for the future.
I thank the youth of Spain who came in such large numbers yesterday to show modern society that it is possible to be modern and profoundly faithful to Jesus Christ. They are the great hope of the future of Spain and of Christian Europe. The future belongs to them.... Adiós, Spain!"