Relatives of the victims of the Germanwings flight that crashed in the Alps filled Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Basilica on Monday evening for a funeral Mass that was attended by the country’s top leaders.
King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia presided a ceremony in memory of the 150 victims of the March 24 crash, 52 of whom were Spanish.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Catalan premier Artur Mas were also present at the Roman Catholic Mass, which was delivered in six languages and included representatives from the evangelical, Muslim and Jewish faiths.
Students from a high school in Llinars del Vallès deposited 150 candles on the altar as a tribute to the victims
The ceremony began just after 6pm with students from a high school in Llinars del Vallès depositing 150 candles on the altar as a tribute to the victims. Sixteen German exchange students and two teachers who were flying from Barcelona back to Düsseldorf after spending several days at the school were among those who lost their lives.
Around 600 relatives of those who died in the disaster sat in the pews in the central nave, while authorities occupied a small reserved area and the royals sat in the presbyterium. In total around 1,500 people crowded into the Gaudí-designed basilica for the ceremony.
Other guests included Rajoy’s deputy, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, ministers, and Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez, as well as the ambassadors to Spain from numerous nations, including Germany, France, Argentina, Belgium and the UK.
The Mass was officiated by the Archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Lluís Martínez Sistach, and transmitted live by state broadcaster RTVE.
As well as those who lost their lives in the crash, Sistach used his homily to remember the victims of the recent Nepal earthquake and migrant drownings. “We all carry in our hearts the pain and the prayers for the victims and injured in the Nepal quake and the victims of the Mediterranean immigrant boats,” he said.