51,000 chairs for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit

Spanish Episcopal Conference states that dedicating the Sagrada Família temple to God was a “personal desire” of Benedict XVI. 1,673 journalists have registered for Barcelona’s visit.


November 2, 2010 11:44 PM

Madrid (ACN).- Today the Spanish Episcopal Conference made the announcement that there will be 51,000 chairs outside of the Sagrada Família temple to attend the Pope’s dedication ceremony. Initially, 36,000 chairs were scheduled for Pope Benedict XVI’s service, but with the recent inclusion of the Monumental bullring, the number has been increased to 51,000. A total of 6,500 people will attend the ceremony inside the Sagrada Família temple. The press director of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, Isidro Catela, assured that it was Benedict XVI’s “personal decision” to consecrate the Sagrada Família because he is a big fan of work by Antoni Gaudí.

Catela said that Pope Benedict XVI “is very familiar” with Gaudí’s work and considers the Sagrada Família to be “an icon” and “world referent”. Catela stated that with the Pope’s visit to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona, Joseph Ratzinger will “fulfil two wishes”: a pilgrimage to Santiago and visiting the Sagrada Família. He claimed that the Pope’s dedication will represent a change for the temple. With this visit and the next one to Madrid, which is scheduled on August 2011, Spain will become the most visited country by Benedict XVI.

The Spanish Episcopal Conference has also confirmed that the meeting between the Benedict XVI and the Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, will be held in Barcelona-El Prat airport, before the goodbye ceremony and the Pope’s departure. In Santiago de Compostela, Benedict XVI will meet the Spanish Leader of the Opposition and President of the Conservative People’s Party (PP), Mariano Rajoy. Catela has said he does not know the details of these meetings, but considering the visit schedule, they will have to be “necessarily brief”. He has also added that no meetings are foreseen with the Presidents of the Catalan and the Galician Governments, José Montilla and Alberto Nuñez Feijóo, respectively.

1,673 registered journalists for Barcelona’s trip

A total of 3,250 journalists have registered to inform on the Pope’s trip to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona. From those, 1,673 will do it from the Catalan capital. In total, 327 communication media will cover the events, 208 of which are from Spain and 119 are international.

The Spanish Episcopal Conference has refused to predict the number of people they foresee will follow the Pope’s visit on Barcelona’s streets. Despite this fact, the Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona, Lluís Martínez Sistach expressed his wish, on several occasions to reach half million of people on the streets.