World Youth Day 2011 came to a close yesterday, Aug. 21, to the sorrow of all of us here in this beautiful city.
We have experienced so much, made so many new friends, and been introduced to our faith in a totally new light. Despite the hardships of WYD, and the difficulties any city has in hosting such a gigantic event, it remains an amazing testament of faith to the whole world.
The Holy Father’s words to the English-speaking world yesterday especially touched my group of pilgrims from the United States. Maybe it was the days of trying to understand and wishing we spoke Spanish that made it especially awesome to hear the greeting in our own language: “I greet all the English-speaking young people present here today! As you return home, take back with you the good news of Christ’s love which we have experienced in these unforgettable days. Fix your eyes upon him, deepen your knowledge of the Gospel, and bring forth abundant fruit! God bless all of you until we meet again!”
An unforgettable moment of encouragement for an unforgettable experience!
I am one of those fortunate pilgrims who have a few extra days in Madrid before I head home.
First, it was back to Madrid — in time to head over to Vicente Calderon Stadium for a special soccer game held just for WYD. What fun! After such a grueling 24 hours, it was amazing to see all the young people still screaming and jumping around. They were chanting “Benedicto” as if their very life depended on it.
The love for our Holy Father that you encounter in every one of the pilgrims is truly remarkable.
Today, our little group got to experience Madrid: all the flavor and color that our host city provides. All the historic places are still packed with WYD pilgrims. Fans, Spanish lace and delicious food were all part of the experience.
We treated ourselves to the world’s oldest restaurant — Restaurante Botin — just off Plaza de Mayor in the center of Madrid. It opened in 1725 and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest restaurant on the planet! It is still there for a reason: The food was incredibly delicious. (Lucky for us Alabamians, who value food so highly!)
It was a lovely little ending to an incredible trip. Tomorrow we are off to Avila before heading back to the States.
We are tired but full of joy on this lovely feast of the Queenship of Mary!
As we wrap up our WYD pilgrimage and soon will depart from this beautiful place, we will echo the words said by our Holy Father yesterday: “Thank you Spain, for the legacy that mankind has received from a nation with deep Christian roots and a future of contagious hope.”
Adios from Madrid!
Rachel Howell, the Register’s customer-and-administrative-support representative,
is blogging about the faith-filled events of World Youth Day 2011 from Madrid.
She is traveling with a group of first-time pilgrims from her parish in Alabama.
Read about Rachel’s other WYD adventures:
Praying for World Youth Day
4 Reasons to Go to World Youth Day
Madrid, Here We Are!
Opening Mass Welcomes Pilgrims to WYD
Day 3 in Madrid: A Trip to Confession Park, Vocational Booths and ‘Life on the Rock’
Day 4 in Madrid: The Pope Has Arrived!
Day 5 in Madrid: The Way of the Cross and a Blessing by the Pope
The Final Blessings of World Youth Day: Prayer Vigil and Closing Mass