Rome, July 29 - Pope Francis returned to Italy Monday after a week in Brazil for World Youth Day. Before leaving the South American country, the pontiff thanked crowds at Rio de Janeiro's Galeao Airport gathered to see him for "a splendid celebration of the richness and joy of our faith in Jesus Christ". "I will always place my hopes in the young people of Brazil and in the young around the world: through them, Christ is preparing a new springtime all over the earth," Pope Francis said. "I depart with many happy memories which I know will nourish my prayers. Already I am beginning to miss Brazil, this great people showing so much affection and friendship. I shall miss the natural and warm smiles I have seen in so many faces, and the enthusiasm shown by the volunteers," he said. The pope travelled to Brazil last Monday in his first overseas visit since being elected head of the Catholic Church in March.