Thousands of mourners lined up outside Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica Sunday morning to attend a Catholic mass alongside King Felipe VI of Spain and other dignitaries, who urged peace and unity as the country recovered from two deadly terrorist attacks.
Cardinal Juan Josep Omella welcomed the victims’ families, the prime minister of Catalonia and members of the Muslim community who joined together on the third day of national mourning. He urged attendees to “work tirelessly for peace” and called Sunday’s gathering a “beautiful mosaic” of hope.
The cardinal also read from a telegram sent by Pope Francis, who tweeted in the early hours of Sunday morning “I pray for all the victims of the attacks of these days. May the blind violence of terrorism no longer find room to exist in this world!”
Inside the church, which attracts more than three million visitors every year, hymns and incense filled the air already heavy with remembrance. Outside the basilica, a woman cried with her young daughter as she recounted the emotional ceremony.
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“I can’t describe what I feel,” Barcelona resident Graciela Alba Moreno said in Spanish, choking on tears. “I feel so much sadness for those who could do this to innocent people, children, who didn’t deserve it. I don’t understand why someone would do that.”
Sagrada Familia, a marvel of 19th century architecture, was one of three terrorist targets, according to investigators. Local authorities believe Barcelona’s port area was also an intended target, in addition to Las Ramblas where 13 people were killed and more than 100 injured Thursday.
“What made [services] more special is that mass was held in the same cathedral to show people that terrorists will not stop our lives, our convictions,” Carla Khanjian, a tourist from Canada, said.
Hundreds of more people waited outside the Catalonian city hall to sign books of condolences for the victims and their families. On Saturday, King Felipe VI stood before a sign that read “Barcelona, city of peace” as he and his wife added their notes next to other signatures from around the globe.
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Canadian tourist Michael Sanders said the outpouring of support speaks to Spain’s resiliency.
“Life goes on in Barcelona, but for those who were lost and the families of the victims, it doesn’t,” he said. “We cannot forget. We cannot take life for granted.”
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.