Pope Francis Visiting Philadelphia!
“My excitement over Pope Francis visiting my beloved hometown of Philadelphia has resulted in this artwork of the Pope and Philadelphia the City of Love which I sketched on-site.”
—Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS
“Faith does not remove us from the world but draws us more deeply into it.”
PHILADELPHIA — The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics brought his message of religious freedom and compassionate immigration to historic Independence Hall speaking in his native Spanish to a wildly receptive audience.
More than 40,000 people gathered to hear Pope Francis speak at the site where colonists declared their freedom from British rule.
"Society is weakened wherever and whenever injustice prevails," he told the crowd to applause. He said recent immigrants to the U.S. should not be discouraged by the challenges they face.
"I ask you not to forget that like those who came before you, you bring many gifts to this great nation," he said. The pope concluded by leading the crowd, in English, in the Lord's Prayer.
"God bless you all," he said before stepping away from the podium.
Minutes before Francis spoke, he paused multiple times to bless several babies along Market Street. The crowd, which had gathered hours before the speech, was enthusiastic all day.
Francis also blessed a "cruz de los encuentros," a 5-foot-tall cross symbolizing the journey of faith of Latino Catholics. He spoke from the same lectern that was used by Abraham Lincoln to deliver the Gettysburg Address.
Earlier Saturday, Francis arrived at Philadelphia International Airport to musical selections ranging from Ode to Joy to the theme from the movie Rocky. Then, after some warm smiles, kisses and handshakes, his modest Fiat was off into a city anxiously anticipating his arrival.
The Mass was at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, where he celebrated for a crowd of 1,600, most of them clergy.
Pope Francis capped his U.S. trip with a final Mass in Philadelphia, where thousands of Catholics lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway to hear from the man known as "the People's Pope."
In his closing homily, Francis stressed the importance of "little gestures" that go a long way.
"They get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different," Francis said. "They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children and siblings."
Like a warm supper, a blessing before bed, a hug after a long day. These things, Francis said, are signs of tenderness, affection and compassion.