In Evangelii Gaudium the Pope states: “The new Jerusalem, the holy city (cf. Rev 21:2-4), is the goal towards which all of humanity is moving. It is curious that God’s revelation tells us that the fullness of humanity and of history is realized in a city.” (n. 71)

Let me recall that it was Our Lady who on August 2, 1218 wished to show herself to a city that was being born by then: Barcelona. And that she has been constantly accompanying it. On September 25, 1687 the Consell de Cent proclaimed the Virgin of Mercy as patron saint of the city.

As the Pope says: “With the Holy Spirit, Mary is always present in the midst of the people. She joined the disciples in praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14) and thus made possible the missionary outburst which took place at Pentecost.” (n.284) “On the cross, when Jesus endured in his own flesh the dramatic encounter of the sin of the world and God’s mercy, he could feel at his feet the consoling presence of his mother and his friend. At that crucial moment, before fully accomplishing the work which his Father had entrusted to him, Jesus said to Mary: “Woman, here is your son”. Then he said to his beloved friend: “Here is your mother” (Jn 19:26-27). These words of the dying Jesus are not chiefly the expression of his devotion and concern for his mother; rather, they are a revelatory formula which manifests the mystery of a special saving mission. Jesus left us his mother to be our mother. Only after doing so did Jesus know that “all was now finished” (Jn 19:28). At the foot of the cross, at the supreme hour of the new creation, Christ led us to Mary.” (n.285)

The fact that Christ leads us to Mary was lived in a special way by the saints who came to the chapel of the Virgin to entrust themselves and their work to Her: St. John Bosco, St. Josemaria Escriva, and men and women of God who found in this sanctuary what Maria always do: “ turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love.” (n. 286)

She is the handmaid of the Father who sings his praises. She is the friend who is ever concerned that wine not be lacking in our lives. She is the woman whose heart was pierced by a sword and who understands all our pain. As mother of all, she is a sign of hope for peoples suffering the birth pangs of justice. She is the missionary who draws near to us and accompanies us throughout life, opening our hearts to faith by her maternal love. As a true mother, she walks at our side, she shares our struggles and she constantly surrounds us with God’s love. Through her many titles, often linked to her shrines, Mary shares the history of each people which has received the Gospel and she becomes a part of their historic identity. Many Christian parents ask that their children be baptized in a Marian shrine, as a sign of their faith in her motherhood which brings forth new children for God. There, in these many shrines, we can see how Mary brings together her children who with great effort come as pilgrims to see her and to be seen by her. Here they find strength from God to bear the weariness and the suffering in their lives. As she did with Juan Diego, Mary offers them maternal comfort and love, and whispers in their ear: “Let your heart not be troubled… Am I not here, who am your Mother?” (n.286)

You will also notice that the pilgrim office provides different options to visit the Basilica and to approach its history. We never refer to the "tourists visiting the Basilica" but "pilgrims" who, wherever they come from - Barcelona, America or anywhere else in the world - are pilgrims who come to the Mother’s house! We too discover with the eyes of the heart, after contemplating such beauty accumulated by our history, the most precious treasure we have: our Mother who repeats to us: "Am I not here, who am your Mother?"