Monday, January 19, 2015

Papal Visit 2015

Elected as the new Pope last March 2013, an Argentinian - Archdiocese Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergolio chose the name Francis, associated with St. Francis de Assisi symbolizing humility in Catholic Church.

His first out-of-Italy trip began in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last July 2013 with a purpose of attending the country's World Youth Day. In 2014, he visited Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Korea, Albania, France and Turkey. Majority of his trips are usually for scheduled international events and official meetings like the ones in Korea, France and Turkey).

This year, he visited Sri Lanka (January 13-15) and then the Philippines (January 15-19).

His arrival at Manila (afternoon) last January 15 was an incredible moment for the Filipinos. Volunteers, Organizers, and other government officials involved in the safety and security, the schedule of the pope during his stay was prepared for months. He was greeted by President Aquino and was given a just welcoming as Pope Francis is also the head of state of Vatican. A tremendous event for the Filipino people. Devotees waited for the Pope's arrival for hours, rain or shine and the others watched on television. Seeing the avid smile of the pope the moment he was greeted by the people was genuine and hopeful - a smile that captures the hearts of millions. It was an unbelievable experience!

Street children of Anak-Tnk Foundation got the surprise of their lives when Pope Francis showed up at their door.

The next day, Januray 16, Pope Francis was greeted with a welcome ceremony in the presidential palace, Malacañang, with a courtesy visit to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III. Then preceded to Manila Cathedral for the first ever holy mass and a "meeting with families" at Mall of Asia Arena.

Pope Francis still went to Leyte but cuts his trip short due to the on going Tropical Storm Amang. (c) Inquirer

Pope Francis' main purpose in visiting the Philippines is to visit the Yolanda victims in Leyte. He conducted a holy mass at the Tacloban Airport and had lunch with several Yolanda survivors at the Archbishop's Residence in Palo, Leyte.
Meeting with priests, consecrated persons, seminarians, and families of Yolanda survivors at the Palo Cathedral.
Amidst heavy rain and strong winds, the people still attended the holy mass and still, very thankful that the Pope was able to attend to them.

Pope Francis' genuine smile lifted the spirits of the people who had been rain-soaked and waiting for him for hours at UST. (c) Jonathan Asuncion / Philstar

Rizal Park (c) BBC

Rizal Park (c) Inquirer

Second to the last day of Pope, he had a meeting with the youth and with various religious leaders in the sports field of University of Santo Tomas, and a speech by Francis; followed by a holy mass at Rizal Park with over 6M Roman Catholics attendees.

Pope Francis came to the Philippines with a smile that we do not get to see everyday. he is not God he is a inspiration to the Filipinos and to all Catholics; a representative of hope to those spirits that are lost and unforgiving. Just like what Cardinal Tagle said to Pope Francis, "You are Peter, who comes ‘to strengthen your brothers and sisters in faith."

La ringrazio molto, Papa Francesco! Un viaggio sicuro. Dio vi benedica!
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