Pope Benedict XVI landed at noon on Thursday in Madrid in a four-day visit which will involve a dozen acts of World Youth Day, which has gathered young Catholics of more than 190 countries.
The Kings of Spain, Juan Carlos and Sofia, the heads of state of Spain and Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero at the head, welcomed the Pope at Barajas airport.
“I come here to meet thousands of young people around the world, Catholics interested in Christ or in the search of a genuine truth to give meaning to their existence,” Benedict said in a speech interrupted at times by the crowd gathered there with shouts like “This is the youth of the Pope.”
“Let nothing and no one to take peace away from you. Do not be ashamed of the Lord”, urged the Pope to young Catholics.
In the afternoon, the Pope will be in the central Plaza de Cibeles, the first major act of a program including a Via Crucis at the Paseo de Recoletos on Friday and a Vigil in Cuatro Vientos aerodrome on Saturday.
The World Youth Day will culminate with a Mass at Cuatro Vientos on Sunday.