Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Valencia 2006

The atmosphere in Valencia this week was fantastic. A group of us from the parish attended the fifth World Meeting of Families. Pope Benedict XVI arrived on Saturday morning and celebrated the closing Mass on Sunday. It felt as if the whole of Spain had descended on Valencia for the occasion. Estimates put the number of faithful attending the Mass at between 1.5 and 2 million. Anyone I spoke to who hadn't attended the papal events said they watched it on television - including our taxi driver who took two days off work! All over Valencia buildings were decked with papal colours and Spanish flags. The photograph shows a typical building, more than thirty stories high with the legend: Benedicto, amigo, la familia esta contigo (Benedict, friend, the family is with you).

Despite the crowds I kept bumping into people I knew, including Don Jesus a parish priest from Madrid. He had come down to Valencia with 1500 parishioners - 30 coaches from one parish! At the meeting with seminarians and their families Don Jesus was there with seven seminarians from his parish!

In this photo I'm with three seminarians from Seville. We arrived in Valencia on Wednesday and immediately headed off to collect our passes for the various events. As we were leaving the accreditation building we heard someone behind us calling my name. It turned out to be Andres (far right) who had stayed in the parish one summer while I was away two years ago. We never met but he recognised me from a photo he had seen in the house. Now that's some memory! Here we are waiting in the Plaza de la Virgen for the arrival of Pope Benedict. We are with thousands of seminarians and their families from all over the world. What an experience!

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