Up to half a million young Roman Catholics from all corners of the globe gathered on the famous Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro to celebrate the opening of World Youth day.
The picture postcard images of suntans, bikinis and beach volleyball gave way to rosaries and prayers for peace at the biennial gathering.
For some it had been a tortuous journey to get to the beach. Rio’s metro system was brought to a halt by a power cut for two hours. People on the way to the inaugural mass were left stranded while others piled onto buses and into taxis.
Far from the crowd was Pope Francis who had a rest day after his tumultuous welcome to Brazil. The 76-year-old who raised security concerns after his car was mobbed on his journey from the airport will celebrate mass on Thursday the highlight of World Youth Day.
Before that he will fly to the state of Sao Paolo for mass in the basilica at Aparecida. It houses a shrine to the Virgin of Aparecida, whom Catholics venerate as the patroness of Brazil.
A bomb was found close-by ahead of the pope’s trip. It was safely removed and had little potential to cause fatalities.