John Paul II in Santiago de Compostela with Cardinal Ángel Suqía. / EFE

19 August 1989: John Paul II arrives in Santiago de Compostela

The Pope was received by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia and addressed 400,000 young Catholic pilgrims on World Youth Day

Jennie Rhodes

Pope John Paul II arrived in Santiago de Compostela on 19 August 1989 on day one of his tour of Spain.

At the Galician airport of Labacolla he was received by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, who were accompanied by members of the government and the president and representatives of the Xunta de Galicia.

In his welcome speech, Don Juan Carlos praised the Pope's "reiterated condemnation of terrorism and violence".

The Pope's visit to the city coincided with the fourth World Youth Day and as such he addressed some 400,000 young Catholic pilgrims who were taking part in the international celebration.

The Pope pointed out that this was his third visit to Spain and he broke with protocol as soon as he arrived to approach the thousands of young people of all nationalities who were waiting for him behind barriers.

In his speech, the Pope defended the Catholic values of marriage and chastity.

The Pontiff invited young people to follow the sacrament of marriage "which must lead to overcoming pleasure, divorce, abortion, birth control and contraception methods".

"This implies chastity, defence of life, as well as the unbreakable bond of marriage, which is not a mere contract that can be arbitrarily broken," he said.

He went on to condemn the consumerist mentality "which slowly empties love of its transcendent content" and preached the Christian commitment "which leads to the fruitfulness of love, through children, who must be the living fruit of the love of their parents, and not the fruit of a capricious and arbitrary love, which admits and rejects children".

After a reception with the King and Queen, the Pope travelled to the San Francisco convent, where he joined a group of pilgrims to walk the last hundred metres of the Camino de Santiago to Plaza del Obradoiro. From Santiago de Compostela the Pope travelled to Covadonga in Asturias.