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Freedom and honor. The Christ of Urda and its minor basilica

The diocesan sanctuary of Urda, where the "Christ of Urda", whose image was made in 1596, is venerated, has been elevated by the Holy Father to the dignity of Basilica. The festivities in honor of the Most Holy Christ of the Vera-Cruz take place on September 28th and 29th.

Juan Alberto Ramírez Avilés-September 28, 2021-Reading time: 4 minutes
christ urda

"For liberty as well as for honor one can and should venture one's life."

(Miguel de Cervantes, Don QuixoteLVIII 3).

"In a place of La Mancha"..., as would begin the masterpiece of our Castilian literature, stands the Hospital de la Misericordia, among vineyards, ancient olive trees and the golden and indigo landscape where the Montes de Toledo are born. For more than four centuries Urda, town of Toledo and capital of the piety of La Mancha, has been the goal and starting point of thousands of steps in search of God who has also become a Pilgrim in search of man.

On February 2, Pope Francis, through the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, elevated to the dignity of Basilica the secular Diocesan Shrine of the Most Holy Christ of the Vera Cruz, in Urda. With a jubilee in perpetuity granted by St. John Paul II on January 25, 2005, Urda is the reference in the heart of the lands of Castile of popular piety as a channel and path of a new evangelization. 

A process of transformation of a traditional enclave for piety makes of this place, in the magnificent environment of a perfect ecology for the spirit, a hospital of healing where, after the search for Christ through a path of exterior and interior pilgrimage, his encounter is celebrated with joy in the Sacrament of Forgiveness, in the Bread and the Word upon arriving at the basilica of Urda.

An active presence in the new social networks and agoras, thanks to a young team, have increased the oral transmission of this place as a spiritual and cultural center. The annual pilgrimages organized on foot from different points of the geography, with new traced and signposted paths, in sports bicycle, including its passage through the exciting route of Llos Montes de Toledo, on horseback from the neighboring Ciudad Real. The various batches of Exercises, Retreat Courses and Formation Meetings for pastoral agents and Brotherhoods and Confraternities, make Urda, with its new Retreat House annexed to the Basilica, a place of study, work and reflection on the necessary role of popular piety and its challenges in the new evangelization. 

Discovering the faith in a pilgrimage process, or rediscovering it in a greater formation and deepening of it, is the objective of the work programmed from this enclave in the heart of the land of Don Quixote. The listening and attention to the pilgrim, either in the sacrament of confession, or in the accompaniment with a specialized volunteer for the reception and listening, along with a careful program of social assistance ranging from collaboration in Caritas or Manos Unidas in various projects, to the creation of aid for cancer research, make the Basilica of Urda is not only the goal of man in Christ, but also the starting point for new initiatives in the search for Christ in man. 

After the recent elevation to the dignity of Basilica of the Sanctuary of Urda, and with our eyes already set on the next Jubilee Holy Year 2024-2025, we invite our readers to find in this place of La Mancha a space where, in the expression of Miguel de Cervantes in his Don Quixote, we work in the harmonization for the future in the commitment to the freedom of the children of God, and in the honor of its long history since 1595 at the service of Christ and mankind. Come and discover it for yourself and your family. Live a new adventure in the land of giants and windmills. Christ awaits you, Urda welcomes you. Come!

Basilica Sanctuary of Urda

The minor basilicas

The Decree Domus EcclesiaeThe Basilica of St. John Lateran, dated 9-XI-1989, establishes the norms for the designation of a church as a basilica. A distinction is made between major basilicas (St. John Lateran, St. Peter of the Vatican, St. Mary Major and St. Paul Outside the Walls) and minor basilicas (all others). 

To achieve the title of minor basilica, the church elevated to this dignity must be an exemplary center of liturgical and pastoral activity in the diocese and, in addition, it must enjoy a certain resonance in the diocese, either because it was built and dedicated to God on the occasion of a historical religious event or because it houses an important relic of a saint or a sacred image of great veneration.

Among other characteristics, minor basilicas must have sufficient dimensions for the celebration as well as a suitable number of priests who can guarantee the pastoral attention and pastoral liturgical care in such a basilica.

To obtain this title, the formal request of the competent diocesan bishop, the nihil Obstat of the Episcopal Conference, information on the origin and religious vitality of the church: celebrations, charitable associations, pastoral experience..., photos of the church and its religious history must be presented.

The title of Minor Basilica is not an "award" but an evaluation of the pastoral work that is carried out and that is to be maintained and even increased after this concession. Among the commitments involved in obtaining the title of minor basilica is that of promoting the liturgical formation of the faithful, especially through the liturgy and formation courses or the promotion of the participation of the faithful and symbolize, in a special way, the union with the See of Peter.

Likewise, the faithful who devoutly visit the Basilica, and participate in it in some sacred rite or at least recite the Sunday prayer and the symbol of faith, under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) can obtain Plenary Indulgence: 1) on the day of the anniversary of the dedication of the said Basilica; 2) on the day of the liturgical celebration of the titular; 3) on the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul; 4) on the day of the anniversary of the granting of the title of Basilica; 5) once a year on a day to be determined by the local Ordinary; and, 6) once a year on a day to be freely chosen by each faithful.

The authorJuan Alberto Ramírez Avilés

Rector of the Basilica of Urda

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