Here is a series of photos and brief commentary on the Pope at WYD emailed to me by a parishioner.
Pope Francis has completed a historic trip to his home continent by celebrating mass for three million people on Rio de Janeiro ‘ s Copacabana beach, one news service reported:
“The colossal crowds cheered the first Latin American pope in a remarkable response to his message that the Catholic Church must shake itself up and get out into the streets to find the faithful.
Nuns mixed with bikini-clad young women as nearly the entire 2.5-mile crescent of Copacabana’s broad beach in Rio overflowed with people, some of them taking an early morning dip in the Atlantic and others tossing flags and football shirts into the pontiff’s open-sided car as he drove by.”
Catholic pilgrims, many of them dressed in Brazil’s national colors, watch, as the Pope celebrates Mass.
Worshippers clutched rosary beads and prayer cards, as they jostled for space on the Beach to hear Pope Francis speak and celebrate Mass.
Many had spent the night on the beach awaiting the Pope’s final mass. They wrapped themselves in flags and sleeping bags, and anything else they could find to ward off the cold.
They danced, prayed and sang – and stood in long lines in front of the armadas of portable bathrooms along the beachfront.
“We were dying of cold but it was worth it,” said Lucrecia Grillera, an 18-year old from Cordoba , Argentina – where Francis lived for a time before becoming Pope: “It was a tiring day, but it was a great experience, she said.“
Pope Francis blesses a child held aloft as he rides in the pope mobile through the millions of people who had travelled from around the world to see him.
Even the normally stern-faced bodyguards let smiles slip as they jogged alongside the Pope’s vehicle, caught up in the enthusiasm of the crowd. Francis welcomed the crowd, waving, blessing, catching small gifts, and reaching out to those near his vehicle- even taking a sip of mate tea handed up to him by an admirer.
Warmly dressed: A pilgrim wakes up after a night of vigil on Copacabana beach. The Vatican said more than three million people were on hand for the Mass, based on information from World Youth Day organizers and local authorities
Crowds pack the beach as the pope’s motorcade makes its way to the beach. Many of those at the celebration had tears in their eyes as they listened to Francis call for them ‘not be part-time Christians,’ and to build up their church like his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi.
Pilgrims unfold a huge flag image of Pope Francis: Vendors hawking World Youth Day trinkets, t-shirts, hats and did brisk business as pilgrims snapped up souvenirs before heading home.
Even the animals came… A stray dog walks down the stairs of the altar during the Mass. ‘ Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup! ‘ Francis said, drawing cheers from the crowd in this football-mad nation.
He urged young Catholics to go out and spread their faith “to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, and most indifferent.”
“The church needs you – your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you,” he said to applause.
“It was such an excellent week, everybody was in such a good spirit, you could just feel a sense of peace,” said Denise da Silva, a Rio de Janeiro Catholic who was sitting alone on the beach Sunday morning, a Brazilian flag painted on her face.
Incredible sight: A man reaches out of the window of a glass-fronted hotel to take a photo of the millions gathered on the beach
(A series of giant screens allowed the throng to see the distant Pope Francis up close.)