Pilgrimage to Compostela Still Key for Europe, Says Pope

In Message for the Close of a Holy Year

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SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain, JAN. 7, 2005 (Zenit.org).- In a message for the closing of the Compostelan Holy Year, John Paul II affirmed that "Spain and the whole of Europe need to recover the awareness of their identity."



In the text, addressed to Archbishop Julián Barrio of Santiago de Compostela, and reported by Veritas, the Pope says that it is a "spiritual legacy that continues to be fundamental for the future of the European Union, whose construction, long and arduous, we continue to look at with confidence."

The Holy Father says that "the pilgrimage to Compostela, a place of meeting between individuals and peoples, must encourage Christians to take to all realms and institutions the values of the Gospel, which are the guarantee of peace and collaboration between citizens, with the shared commitment to serve the common good."

"Spain, be yourself. Discover your origins!" John Paul II exhorted. "Seek in fidelity to your historic being the course for your future and the guarantee of your progress."

On Dec. 31, Archbishop Barrio celebrated the rite of the closing of the Holy Door and presided over a Mass in the cathedral.

More than 12 million pilgrims and tourists visited Santiago de Compostela during the Holy Year. The next Compostelan Year will be held in 2010.

The great German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) contended that Europe was made by pilgrimages to Compostela. He referred to the pilgrimages of European peoples to the tomb of the Apostle James in the Middle Ages, which created a crossing of paths and peoples, giving a common physiognomy to the continent.