IL MESSAGGERO (Italy), BBC

Worldcrunch

RIO DE JANEIRO - Crowds of faithful gathered in this popular Brazilian city to welcome Pope Francis, who set off from Rome on Monday morning for his first official foreign trip and preside over the 28th edition of the Roman Catholic World Youth Day.

Here are five things you need to know about this highly anticipated visit:

1. A LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIR The Argentine-born pontiff is the first leader of the Catholic Church to hail from Latin America. When Francis Pontiff lands around 4 p.m. local time in Rio de Janeiro, he will be greeted by at least two million young people from 180 different countries, including tens of thousands of people from his native Argentina. Latin American heads of state are also expected attend the closing mass, on Sunday, including Brazilian President Dilma Roussef.

2. BEACH MASS Pope Francis will spend most of Wednesday in Aparecida, the most revered Catholic shrine of the country, but the next day may make even bigger waves by celebrating Mass and leading the Way of the Cross across  the world-famous white sand beach of Copacabana.

Photo: Juniorpetjua

3. MOST HUMBLE The first Latin Amarican Pontiff will also visit shantytowns as he used to do when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He will go to Varginha, a small slum North of Rio, made safe by the police who verified no drug or arms were hidden there. The Vatican said it had “full confidence in the ability of Brazilian security forces and Providence to protect the pontiff during his visit”.  


4. PEOPLE'S LANGUAGE Faithful to his direct style of communication, the first non-European pope in thirteen centuries, will address the young Catholics in Portuguese and deliver some of his speeches in Spanish. Moreover the man born Jose Maria Bergoglio will also take confession of five young men, Friday, in the Quinta da Boa Park where hundreds of confessionals have been set up.

              Francis in Rome with Argentine President Kirchner (Casa Rosada)

5. SAFETY & MASKS Some 22,000 security staff will be on duty during Pope Francis’ six-day visit. The Pontiff will not use his armored Popemobile, but will travel aboard army helicopters in order not to be stuck in the Brazil's famous traffic jams. There is extra concern about any fallout from last month's mass demonstrations around the country when hundreds of thousands of people protested about living conditions and economic policy. One of the central symbols of those protests was the wearing mask of Guy Fawkes, made popular by the hacktivist group Anonymous -- and Brazilan authorities have banned those masks at Pope Francis’s opening Mass.


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