RIO — Pope Francis has visited Copacabana beach, in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, to hold the greeting ceremony for World Youth Day.
After arriving by helicopter, the pope drove along the four kilometres of the beach, stopping many times to greet the crowd.
An estimated one million pilgrims attended the event, following a papal visit to a shanty town, or favela.
Meanwhile, bad weather has forced this weekend’s events to be moved from a drenched farm on the outskirts of Rio.
A site set up at a farm on the western outskirts of the city for Saturday’s vigil and Sunday’s service, where up to two million people are expected, was covered with mud and puddles after two days of relentless rain.
The authorities have announced that these events will now also take place at Copacabana beach.
Hours before the Pope arrived at Copacabana yesterday, young pilgrims started gathering along the beach.
“I’ve always heard that Cariocas (Rio-born people) did not like the cold or the rain. But you are showing your faith is stronger. Well done!” Pope Francis joked with the crowd at the start of his address.
Groups resembling Olympic delegations were holding up the flags of their countries and many were carrying the distinct World Youth Day backpacks in yellow, green or blue, the colours of the host-country’s flag, the BBC’s correspondent in Rio, Julia Carneiro, says.
Big screens were set up on the sand and the rain stopped before the event, our correspondent says.
On the fourth day of his visit to Brazil, the first international trip of his papacy, the head of the Roman Catholic church also addressed Argentine faithful in Rio’s cathedral.
During the event, he told pilgrims to take to the streets and “stir things up”. (BBC)