Rio de Janeiro

One million greet pope in Copacabana, Via Crucis awaits

Italian woman 'thrilled' after confession with Francis

One million greet pope in Copacabana, Via Crucis awaits

Rio de Janeiro, July 26 - Anticipation was high Friday for Pope Francis's return to Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach to take part in the Stations of the Cross, the day after over one million youth greeted him during week-long celebrations for World Youth Day (WYD). In an area famous for skimpy bikinis and ideal surfing, the Argentine pope is is poised to stand in stark contrast to the things of this world by taking part in the Via Crucis and giving a speech afterwards. A day earlier he praised scores of cheering pilgrims upon his arrival by pope-mobile on the beach. "I want to thank you for this testament of faith that you are showing to the world, I've always heard it say that the Cariocas (natives of Rio de Janeiro) don't like the cold and the rain," he said. "Now you are showing that that your faith is stronger than the cold and the rain!" Amid his busy schedule Friday Francis found time to update his Twitter account, commenting on the welcome ceremony on Copacabana the day before. "What an unforgettable welcome in Copacabana!" said Francis using his @Pontifex Twitter account. "May God bless you all!". Francis has been in Brazil since Monday. On his fifth day in the South American country, the pope heard confessions in the Quinta de Boa Vista park. Among them was an Italian woman who said that the pontiff put her at ease with his warm attitude that has become his trademark. "For me it was a great thrill, a gift to my spiritual life that comes at the right time," 27-year-old Claudia Giampietro said. "The words of the Holy Father with their simplicity and sincerity help us to interpret God's plan for each of us". Together with Giampietro, three Brazilians and one Venezuelan pilgrim confessed to the world's first Latin American pope on his native continent during his first international trip since being elected in March. He also met with young prisoners at the Archbishop's Palace St. Joachim and had lunch with 12 young pilgrims from around the world, representing all of continents. On Saturday Francis is scheduled to celebrate Mass with the bishops and with priests and seminarians in Rio de Janeiro's St. Sebastian Cathedral. Later in the morning he will meet Brazil's leaders at the Municipal Theatre of Rio de Janeiro then lunch with the cardinals of Brazil, the presidency of the national conference of bishops of Brazil and bishops from the region in the refectory of the Sumaré Study Centre. To close the day, Francis will hold a prayer vigil with the young people at the Campus Fidei field in Guaratiba. On Sunday he will celebrate Mass for the 28th World Youth Day at the Campus Fidei. A farewell ceremony will take place at the Galeao-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport before the his return to Rome's Fiumicino Airport, with his flight set to land in the Italian capital on Monday at around 11:30 local time.

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