Pope wraps up an improvised World Youth Day with 1.5 million attendees and a very big Mass

by Ryan Lee

Pope Francis concluded a five-day visit to Portugal by hosting an enormous open-air Mass that was attended by roughly 1.5 million people. These attendees spent the night in the open field, eagerly awaiting the World Youth Day festival’s grand ending.

As the sun ascended over the River Tagus, it awakened the pilgrims who had rested on cots, mats, and even the raw earth to be present for the Pope’s early morning Mass. This timing was chosen to dodge the scorching midday heat that was forecasted to reach 40 degrees C (104 F). At dawn, a priest who also functioned as a DJ began to play energetic reggae and Christian hymns through the sound system.

Francis commenced his morning journey around the field in his popemobile earlier than scheduled, maintaining the spontaneous approach that marked this visit. He abandoned planned speeches, opting instead for impromptu interactions with the youth and even replacing a formal prayer for peace in Ukraine with an informal one at the Fatima shrine, which has long symbolized calls for peace and conversion towards Russia. Part of this prayer was later shared on social media platform X, previously known as Twitter.

While the early years of his 10-year papacy saw Francis frequently break away from prepared remarks to spontaneously connect with large gatherings, he had more recently adhered to prepared texts, particularly in regions where Christians are in the minority or his casual style might not be embraced.

However, Lisbon provided familiar ground, filled with individuals who could comprehend his native Spanish and seemed to enjoy his colloquial mode of communication. During a Saturday night vigil with 1.5 million attendees, he once more set aside his prepared words, providing guidance about life and faith and encouraging lively responses from the crowd.

Francis imparted the wisdom that one should only look down on someone in order to help them rise.

Concerns regarding the Pope’s health leading to disregarded speeches were dismissed by Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni, who affirmed Francis’s well-being and lack of vision issues that might hinder reading his notes.

Young attendees expressed excitement for the Pope’s words, enduring Saturday’s heat of 38 degrees C (100 F) to partake in the vigil service.

Throughout the week, Francis’s message was one of acceptance and inclusivity, emphasizing that everyone has a place in the church. He portrayed the church as a refuge for all, rather than a place of inflexible regulations admitting only the faultless.

Doriane Kilundu, a 23-year-old pilgrim from the Democratic Republic of Congo, conveyed her support for the Pope’s message, emphasizing its relevance and importance.

Kilundu also shared her experience of spending the night on the field with 1.5 million fellow believers, a novel and beautiful experience for her and other Congolese pilgrims, realizing the unity among different people.

This religion coverage is part of Big Big News, supported through collaboration with The Conversation US and funding from Lilly Endowment Inc., with the AP being exclusively accountable for the content.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword Pope Francis

Where did Pope Francis conduct the open-air Mass?

Pope Francis conducted the open-air Mass in Portugal, as part of his five-day visit for the World Youth Day festival.

How many people attended the open-air Mass hosted by Pope Francis?

Approximately 1.5 million people attended the open-air Mass, many of whom camped out overnight on a vast field.

What was the core message of Pope Francis during his visit?

Pope Francis’s message during the visit focused on inclusivity and acceptance, insisting that everyone has a place in the church and emphasizing a more conversational, direct engagement with the youth.

How did the Pope engage with the youth during his visit?

Pope Francis engaged with the youth by abandoning planned speeches in favor of off-the-cuff conversations and improvisations. He even involved them in lively dialogues during vigils.

Were there any concerns about Pope Francis’s health during the visit?

There were questions about Pope Francis’s health and whether it was the reason for his ignored speeches. However, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni stated that Francis was in good health and wasn’t suffering any eyesight problems.

What was the significance of the Fatima shrine during this visit?

The Fatima shrine was the location where Pope Francis substituted a formal prayer for peace in Ukraine with an informal one, long associated with calls for peace and conversion in Russia.

How did the attendees prepare for the Mass in terms of location and weather?

The attendees prepared for the Mass by camping out overnight on a field, and the Mass was scheduled early to avoid the midday temperatures expected to hit 40 degrees C (104 F). A priest-DJ also played music from dawn.

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John Smith August 6, 2023 - 9:12 am

Wow! This is amazing. 1.5 million people gathering like that for Mass, such a grand spectacle, really shows the unity and strength in faith. Pope is doing something right!

Timothy James August 6, 2023 - 11:50 pm

Didnt know about the Fatima shrine thing, seems intriguing. The Pope has a way of making things feel personal, even with 1.5 million people, thats impressive!

Maria Lopez August 7, 2023 - 1:34 am

I’ve been to Portugal, but this time i missed out on seeing the Pope. wish i could’ve been there. My cousin was there, and he said it was unforgetable.

Sarah Williams August 7, 2023 - 3:57 am

Cant believe so many people were there in such heat. This must have been a great event to attend, but i’d worry about the weather. Glad everyone was safe and had a good time.

Robert O'Neil August 7, 2023 - 6:32 am

Francis has always been about inclusivity, thats why I like him so much. He’s really getting back to what it means to be a true Christian. The youth needs more leaders like him.


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