A tide of emotion washed over the sea of Catholics in Luneta Park when Pope Francis arrived on Sunday afternoon.
According to local officials some 3 million people have gathered at the Luneta Park and surrounding areas for Pope Francis’ final Mass.
According to Inquirer, organizers expect as many as 6 million people might attend the service, surpassing the 5 million record set by St. John Paul II at the same Rizal Park in 1995.
— Ariel (@arielisidro) January 18, 2015
The overall mood was festive, with the crowd cheering and chanting the Pontiff’s name. The man who made Leyte weep, in both gratitude and the memory of grief, arrived at the historic landmark at 2:36 p.m.
Pope Francis, who is the third Pontiff to visit the Philippines, has been praised for his simple and down-to-earth image. Dubbed as the “Pope of Surprises,” he is popular among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. He has been compared to Pope John Paul II, who is now a saint and had
the country twice.
Pope Francis’ pastoral visit to the Philippines coincides with the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1995, which drew around five million people–said to be the largest single gathering of Christians in history–during his Mass on World Youth Day.
— Official Gazette PH (@govph) January 18, 2015
The Mass on Sunday is expected to rival and even break the record of the 1995 event.
Since he arrived in the Philippines on Thursday, Pope Francis has been winning over Filipinos with his heartfelt speeches, as well as decisions to break security protocol to be with the people. On Friday, he left Manila Cathedral with Tagle to visit an orphanage housing street children, and on Saturday, he left Manila early to reach Tacloban before the storm hit the province.