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The Pope encourages young people “to live a life worth living”



WYD - 18th August

18/08/2011: Spain - Photo gallery

“The Lord has congregated us for the beautiful experience of World Youth Day. With your presence and participation in these events, the name of Christ will resonate in all the corners of this illustrious city.” With these warm words, Benedict XVI addressed the thousands of young people who gathered to welcome him in the Plaza de Cibeles. 

The Holy Father, who greeted all those present – “and also those unable to be here” – has stressed the value of friendship with Jesus and has invited everyone to take advantage of “these days to know Christ better”.

Benedict XVI referred on numerous occasions to the Gospel as a source of friendship with Christ: “listen closely to the words of the Lord, that they may be for you roots which nourish your being.”

On the other hand, the Pope said that it is through God “that we might have authentic lives, lives which are always worth living, in every circumstance, and which not even death can destroy”.

He has advised youth to listen to what will really enrich them and to build a solid life, and to use these days to know Christ better. “There are words which serve only to amuse, as fleeting as an empty breeze; others, to an extent, inform us; those of Jesus, on the other hand, must reach our hearts, take root and bloom there all our lives. If not, they remain empty and become ephemeral”, he said.

“If you build on solid rock, not only your life will be solid and stable, but it will also help to project the light of Christ shining upon those of your own age”, Benedict XVI said. “Build your lives upon the firm foundation which is Christ. This wisdom and prudence will guide your steps, and your happiness will influence others, and they will wonder what the secret of your life is.” 

His Holiness commenced the event in the Plaza de la Independencia, where the Puerta de Alcalá is located and where the Mayor of Madrid – Alberto Ruiz Gallardón – was waiting for him to hand him the keys to the city, a fact the Holy Father mentioned and gave thanks for in his initial greeting in seven languages. 

He then headed to the Puerta de Alcalá accompanied by five young people representing the five continents, and he walked through this historic monument as a symbol of entrance into the city hosting the Madrid World Youth Day. Another fifty girls and boys from around the world entered through the other four arches of the monument. 

Two young people were waiting for him on the other side of the Puerta de Alcalá, inviting him to plant an olive tree in remembrance of his visit. Six Andalusian horses of Jerez, belonging to the Domeq family, then treated the Pontiff to an equestrian dressage show. Two of the young riders gave him a sculpture of the patron saint of Madrid, the Virgen de la Almudena.

He then headed to Cibeles to the applause of all those present and the melodies of the minstrel group of the Loyola de Granada university residence, which composed a song for the occasion. In Cibeles, the cardinal of Madrid, Antonio M. Rouco, gave a welcome address and thanked the Pope for his visit to Madrid with these words: “Thank you from the very bottom of our hearts! Madrid and Spain, the Church and society, welcome you with the doors to their homes and their hearts fully open!”.

Five young people dressed in typical costumes went up onto the platform to welcome the Pope in representation of the five continents. Each of them extended the traditional welcome of their countries of origin. The Liturgy of the Word then took place. Afterwards, the Pope gave a papal address in line with the previously read Gospel.

When the event was over, the Holy Father left the platform to applause and cries of “Long live the Pope!” and returned to the Apostolic Nunciature to rest before tomorrow’s events.

On Friday the Pope will meet with the King in his official residence. He will then go to the San Lorenzo de El Escorial Monastery, 40 kilometers from Madrid, where he will have two meetings: one with nuns and another with young university professors. He will have lunch with ten young people from the five continents and two Spaniards in representation of the JMJ host country. In the afternoon he will preside over a Via Crucis in which 12 Spanish cities will be participating with their famous Holy Week “pasos” (Passion sculptures), to put an end to the fourth day of the WYD Madrid.


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