Philadelphia has been planning for this visit for months. Saturday morning, Pope Francis arrived from New York as the keynote speaker for the World Meeting of Families. Philadelphia is the last leg of his travels to the United States, which started with a tour of Washington D.C, including speaking to both houses of Congress on Thursday and then to New York City where the Pontiff spoke to the largest gathering of largest gathering of presidents and prime ministers ever on Friday. Throughout the week, Pope Francis spoke of the need to extend a hand to the poor, to immigrants and the importance of protecting the environment.
The Pope landed in Philadelphia where is was greeted by dignitaries such as Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania, Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia and Archbishop Charles Chaput while a local Catholic high school band played the theme to Rocky. From the airport the Pontiff traveled to the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, where he celebrated Mass for a crowd of 1,600, most of them clergy. At the Basilica, the Pope said mass to about 1600 members of the faith including many members of the clergy. There the Pope spoke about the value of women in the Church saying that, “It means valuing the immense contribution in which women, lay and religious, have made and continue to make to the life of our communities.” The Pope spoke in his native Spanish while conducting mass. Those who were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Pope, were overjoyed. Justin Thomas and his mother, Tanya, were still in awe after seeing the Pontiff. Thomas said that “He speaks of how we must help each other and love one another. It may not be popular right now with all the election nonsense but it is what we should do for each other.”
Once again the People’s Pope took time to stop and take in the crowds. While on route from the airport, the famous little Fiat of the Pope’s stopped briefly when he noticed a disabled young man in a wheelchair. Suddenly, the Pope was out of the car and was at the side of this young man blessing him and speaking with his family. For that family, the joy of the Pontiff’s short visit, was written all over their faces. Moments before he was to say mass at the Basilica, he made sure to stop to wave to the crowds. The Pope appears to thrive on the love that the crowd has shown him in al three cities.
Saturday at about 4:45 p.m. the Pope will speak on religious freedom at the sight of the United States beginnings, Independence Hall. The Pope will also speak on the subject of immigration which has been a theme of the Pope’s visit. When he delivered this speech to both houses of Congress, the Pope reminded the members that America was founded on immigrants. The Pope has stated that today’s immigration problem is so large it can only be compared to when WWII was going on and after the war.
Tonight the Pope, will attend on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway a concert in his honor. At 7:30, the concert and entertainment will start with the crowds to be estimated at over 1 million. Mark Wahlberg will host the event with the talents of Aretha Franklin, Andrea Bocelli, The Philadelphia Orchestra and more for this festival. There will be a papal parade leading up to the festival. The parade will start at the end of the visit of the Pope to Independence Hall.