Pope finishes Asian tour after huge Mass in Manila

Pope finishes Asian tour after huge Mass in Manila

Mon 19 Jan 2015 at 09:28

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NNA – Pope Francis left the Philippines on Monday, ending a week-long trip to Asia that culminated with a rain-soaked Mass for about seven million people in the capital of Asia’s most populous Catholic nation, the largest-ever crowd for a papal event.

Vatican officials have said between six million and seven million people attended Sunday’s Mass in Manila’s Rizal Park and surrounding areas, eclipsing the roughly five million worshippers who flocked to a Mass by Pope John Paul in the same park 20 years ago.

The Pope’s plane took off from Manila at about 10 a.m. local time (0200 GMT) in clear blue skies, a stark contrast to the stormy weather since he arrived on Thursday.

Huge crowds greeted Francis at all his stops in the Philippines despite the bad weather. Thousands lined the streets along the papal route to the airport on Monday, some shouting “Viva Santo Papa!” and “Pope Francis, we love you!”

About a thousand schoolchildren danced and sang as he boarded the plane taking him back to Rome. Several of Francis’s scheduled events in the Philippines were cut short by torrential rains and high winds, particularly on Saturday when he went to comfort survivors of Typhoon Haiyan that killed at least 6,300 people in the central Philippines in November 2013. — REUTERS

========D.K.