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Pope Francis' arrival in Brazil enthralls locals, causes security concerns in Rio

July 24, 2013

Pope Francis, who succeeded the recently resigned Benedict XVI as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, arrived in the small town of Aparecida, Brazil on July 24 to deliver a public mass. The service will be the first of his trip, which began two days earlier on July 22, through the South American nation. According to The Associated Press, his arrival is concurrent with World Youth Day, a Catholic event that takes place every three years and this time around has attracted approximately 350,000 people from all over the world. Those who have traveled to participate in Youth Day events may find it convenient to use international calling cards to place necessary calls.

The news source reported that well over 10,000 Catholics have come to Aparecida to celebrate mass with the pontiff and receive his blessings. The visit to Aparecida also serves as an homage to the Virgin of Aparecida, patron saint of Brazil. Many visitors arrived on the night of July 23 and camped out to ensure a spot in the service despite the cold of the evening.

Police concerns upon Pope's initial arrival
According to an earlier AP report, when Pope Francis first touched down in Rio de Janeiro and passed through the city streets in a motorcade, the crowd went wild and rushed his vehicle when the pope's driver made a brief wrong turn. No one was hurt and the pope did not seem worried - later in the day, he traveled in an open-air vehicle instead of the customary bulletproof glass-covered car. Despite this, federal and local police squabbled over the massive traffic jam and resulting - if brief - lapse in security.

The federal police finally released a statement on July 23, claiming that although the "options of the Vatican itself, concerning the visibility and contact with pilgrims, expressed by the pope himself" caused some worry, the lack of any serious incident caused them to believe that Pope Francis would be safe under their protection.

Faithful welcome pontiff's arrival in Aparecida
While in line to enter the mass, the AP spoke with Lena Halfeld, a 65-year-old woman who made an offering to the Virgin of Aparecida in hope that the saint would bless her niece's wedding. Halfeld told the source she believed that trips to the church of the patron saint helped cure her husband.

Natalia Pereira, a 16-year-old student from Sao Paolo, similarly expressed excitement. "I've been up all night in line, I'm soaked to the bone and freezing but I'm so excited that it's worth it."


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