Pope John Paul II visited us 28 years ago
Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Barcelona today, where tomorrow he shall be solemnly consecrating the Sagrada Família temple. This is 28 years after his predecessor, the late John Paul II gave a mass at the Camp Nou to 120,000 believers.
On November 7, 1982 the Barça stadium witnessed a historic event, the first time a Pontiff had
given mass in Catalonia. John Paul II’s visit was part of a wider tour of Spain, his first
since becoming Pope in 1978.
Pope’s visit began with a visit to the Benedictine Abbey at Montserrat. By midday, he had
arrived in the city and headed for the Sagrada Familia, where he recited the Angelus. After that,
he went to the Cathedral, passing along Carrer Sardenya, Carrer Aragó, Passeig de Gràcia, Ronda de
Sant Pere, Plaça Urquinaona and Via Laietana. He blessed the huge crowd that had gathered in the
Cathedral Square before going to visit the Archbishop. After lunch, at about 15.30, he left for
Avinguda Maria Cristina where he was greeted by a million people as he made his way into the Camp
Nou for his next religious duty.
Mass in the Camp Nou
Sadly, the weather
was less welcoming, and under pouring rain, a congregation of 120,000 gathered on the recently
extended Camp Nou terraces. John Paul II entered the stadium at 18.30 via the south goal, and
blessed the adoring crowds. The Pope stood on a 600 m2 covered podium in the middle of the pitch. A
huge 3000 m2 scarlet and yellow carpet was decorated with yellow flowers.
To the right
of the huge altar assembled in front of the grandstand was a choir of two thousand conducted by the
director of the Coral Sant Jordi, Oriol Martorell and a group of priests who later gave communion.
To the left, some seven hundred sick people awaited the blessing of the Holy Father, while in the
Palau Blaugrana, a further 4,500 sick, disabled and elderly people followed the service from afar.
Before beginning the Eucharist, the Pope said “peace be with you” in the Catalan
language, which certainly impressed the congregation. The stadium fell into silence for the mass,
which ended with a singing of “Virolai”.
The Camp Nou box of honour gathered a number of local authorities and FC Barcelona directors.
These included the President of the Generalitat, Jordi Pujol; the assistant councillor to the
Presidency of the Generalitat, Miquel Coll i Alentorn and the Mayor of Barcelona, Narcís Serra. The
FCB president, Josep Lluís Núñez and his wife enjoyed seats of honour near to the podium and were
among the twenty people that received communion directly from the Pope.
presented the Holy Father with a package of surgical materials to be sent to the Third World. The
Pope signed the club’s Book of Honour and presented a rosary to Josep Lluís Núñez. John Paul
II was also presented with club membership card number 108,000. Years later, in November 2001, the
update of the club register meant the Pope’s number became 103,350, which was the card he
still had when he died on April 2, 2005.