Despite jetlag, rainy weather and an intense schedule, Pope Francis is showing no sign of slowing down as he meets with young people in Rio de Janeiro.
Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s press office, told the press July 24 that Pope Francis “hasn’t stopped at all” and his continuous energy is “something that strikes all of us.”
He also has not lost any of his personal touch, even though his attention is being sought after at every moment. One example occurred when he took time to meet with 30 cloistered nuns who waited in the rain for him at Bom Jesus Seminary in Aparecida as he had lunch with the seminarians.
“The funniest thing is that one nun asked for the Pope to sign a book for her and so he had to sign a book for all of them,” Fr. Lombardi recalled.
“One of them decided she wanted a picture with the Pope with her arms around his neck and so all of them had to have their picture with him, too,” he added with a laugh during a July 24 press conference at World Youth Day media center in Rio.
On Wednesday morning, Pope Francis began the day by visiting the national shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida. “This has been a beautiful day despite the heavy rain, and the Mass at Our Lady of Aparecida was a very important moment,” Fr. Lombardi remarked.
“He consecrated World Youth Day and all the pilgrims to Our Lady,” the Vatican spokesman explained.
“It was quite obvious that the Pope was extremely happy, especially after seeing the crowd of 200,000, and he said, ‘see you again in 2017,’ which shows his real love for the place,” said Fr. Lombardi.
The Holy See press office director also recapped the Pope’s visit to St. Francis of Assisi Hospital, where the Franciscans care for poor drug and alcohol addicts free of charge.
“Today, in this place where people struggle with drug addiction, I wish to embrace each and every one of you, who are the flesh of Christ, and to ask God to renew your journey, and also mine, with purpose and steadfast hope,” he said during his July 24 visit.
The Holy Father’s schedule for July 25 begins with a private Mass.
The first public event will be at 9:45 a.m. when the Pope will receive the keys of the city and will then bless the Olympic flags.
The Pope will then visit the slum of Varginha and around noon he will meet with 7,000 Argentinians at the Cathedral.
“The Pope hasn’t prepared a speech for them and this will be something improvised, so it will be interesting to see his spontaneity in this occasion,” said Fr. Lombardi.
The day will end with the opening ceremony for World Youth Day at Copacabana beach. Organizers expect around 2 million young people to attend the ceremony.