The Alitalia Airbus A330 carrying the Pope departed punctually for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where it is scheduled to land in Galeao Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport at 4.00 p.m. local time, 9.00 p.m. Italian time. The Argentine Pope’s first apostolic trip has begun, VIS reports.
Francis travelled carrying his hand luggage, and stood in line waiting to embark alongside the other passengers, accredited journalists and other prelates. The flight is expected to last twelve hours and the aeroplane will fly over Italy, Algeria, Mauritania and Senegal before arriving in the Brazilian city where multitudes of young people are already awaiting the Pope. Shortly before departing he tweeted:
“I am arriving in Brazil in a few hours and my heart is already full of joy because soon I will be with you to celebrate the 28th WYD”.
The message has been disseminated to over seven million users who follow the @Pontifex account.
Last Sunday Following the Angelus, Pope Francis, upon reading a banner with the words “Buon Viaggio!” (Have a good trip!), asked the faithful to accompany him spiritually through prayer on his trip to Brazil. He affirmed that this coming week will really be dedicated to youth, and that the young will be its true protagonists.
“All those who come to Rio want to hear Jesus’ voice, to listen to Jesus: ‘Lord, what should I do with my life? What path I should take?’” Francis asked the young people present in the square to “entrust these questions to the Lord and to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, much loved and venerated in Brazil: those questions that the young people will ask there and those that you will ask today. And may Our Lady help us in this new stage of our pilgrimage”.
Meanwhile, pilgrims from around the world were gathering in Rio for World Youth Day, arriving by bus from neighbouring nations or landing by plane from across the ocean to greet the first pope from Latin America.
More than one million people are expected to pack the white sands of Copacabana beach where the pope will greet throngs of young people on Thursday. But the biggest event will be the Holy Mass with them on Sunday from the so-called “Campus Fidei” in Guaratiba.
The program of the visit, full of activities all in Rio except a Holy Mass in the Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Conception in Aparecida. The program includes also a visit to the poor. The firsts visit will be to the St. Francis of Assisi of the Providence of God Hospital and to the Community of Varginha (Manguinhos).
After that he will go to the already mentioned welcoming Ceremony by the young people on the waterfront of Copacabana, he will lead a recital of the Angelus Domini from the central balcony of the Archbishopric of St. Joaquin and attend a Way of the Cross with the young people on the waterfront of Copacabana the 26th of July.
He will celebrate a Holy Mass with the Bishops of the 28th WYD and with Priests, Religious and Seminarians in the Cathedral of St Sebastian will take place the next day; attend a meeting with the Brazil’s leaders gathered at the Municipal Theatre the same day; and a meeting with the Bishops of Brazil in the Archbishop’s House of Rio de Janeiro.
And then the biggest events with the young people: a Prayer Vigil with the young people at Campus Fidei at Guaratiba the 27th of July followed by the Holy Mass for the 28th World Youth Day the 28th of July.
After these big events the Pope will have a meeting with the Coordinating Committee of CELAM at the Sumaré Study Center in Rio de Janeiro and will meet the Volunteers at the Pavillon 5 of the Rio Center just before the farewell Ceremony at the Galeão/Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport to return to Rome the same 28th of July, Sunday.
He insisted to use an open jeep instead a bulletproof vehicle during his visit to Brazil despite the security concerns.