30,000 Join in Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela

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SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain, AUG. 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Participants in the 2004 European Youth Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela left little doubt about where their loyalties lie.



"We are the Pope's young people! We are the Pope's young people!" the youths chanted on the night of Aug. 7.

The pilgrimage attracted more than 30,000 participants from Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, France, Russia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Romania. The motto of the pilgrimage was "Witnesses of Christ of a Europe of Hope."

The youths met at Monte del Gozo, the site of the 1989 World Youth Day, presided over by John Paul II, which gathered half a million young people.

Young people cheered the Pope, who delivered a message to the Prayer Vigil via an audiovisual recording.

John Paul II appealed to the young people to be faithful to their Christian roots, in order to be "sentinels of the future and shed light on the new path of a Europe of hope."

The next day, Aug. 8, the papal legate, Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela of Madrid, presided over the closing Mass, held amid rain, on Monte del Gozo.

In his homily he urged the youths to build a Christian Europe and to renew their encounter with Christ and the Gospel.