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Huge crowd in Brazil as Pope Francis celebrates mass at Aparecida Catholic shrine


Brazil

Huge crowd in Brazil as Pope Francis celebrates mass at Aparecida Catholic shrine

Tens of thousands of people turned out in southeastern Brazil to witness the Pope celebrate his first mass outside Italy as pontiff.

A planned helicopter flight from Rio was cancelled due to bad weather, and Francis was instead flown aboard a Brazilian military jet.

The mass at Aparecida, the country’s most important Catholic shrine, came on the third day of the Pope’s visit for World Youth Day.

Thousands inside the Basilica had spent the night outside in freezing temperatures to be sure of gaining access.

Aparecida is where, as an Argentine cardinal, Francis sealed his place as a Latin American Catholic Church leader during a visit by his predecessor Pope Benedict in 2007.

Then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he presided over an influential statement calling on the Church to return to the principles of humility and charity.

He has continued to promote these values as pontiff.

The Pope paid tribute to Our Lady of Aparecida, whose statue which is housed in the Basilica.

It is thought to have been found in a river nearly 300 years ago.

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