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Monday 23 July 2018

Knock booked out while 285,000 apply for Pope at Phoenix Park

Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Australia Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and his wife Lynne
Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Australia Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and his wife Lynne

Kevin Doyle and Fiona Dillon

Applications for more than 300,000 tickets to see Pope Francis in Ireland were made in a single day.

Tickets for the pontiff's appearances in the Phoenix Park and Knock were released through an online portal early yesterday morning.

Organisers reported an "unprecedented demand" for tickets.

Some 285,000 tickets - more than half of those available - were snapped up to see Pope Francis at the Phoenix Park in the first 12 hours alone.

The tickets were made available online at 5am yesterday.

A total of 500,000 tickets have been made available for the Mass in the Phoenix Park as part of the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) event.

Meanwhile, as expected, all 45,000 free tickets for the opportunity to pray the Angelus with Pope Francis at Knock Shrine were snapped up within a matter of hours.

It took just four hours for the final tickets to be allocated at 9.12am yesterday.

Speaking about the scale of the bookings, Father Timothy Bartlett, secretary general of the WMOF2018, said he is hugely encouraged by the response to all of the planned events - those with Pope Francis and those that will take place before he arrives in Ireland.

"It is clear that what Pope Francis is saying about family, faith and society is connecting with a wide range of people," he said. "We are working hard to make the WMOF2018 a joyful, welcoming and comfortable event for all those who wish to attend.

"While I know that many people will be disappointed that they have not managed to get tickets for Knock Shrine or for the RDS Pastoral Congress, I would encourage them to come to the Mass in Phoenix Park for a joyful celebration of faith and the good news of family in our lives. It will also be a memorable and historic occasion."

Organisers of the WMOF2018 said they were confident it has robust systems in place to check and validate all bookings received.

For Knock, all tickets will have the name of the owner and be subject to checks.

Anybody who is asked to pay for a ticket to either event is being urged to contact gardaí.

Meanwhile, WMOF organisers said that its pastoral congress event has been sold out. It will take place in the RDS in Dublin from August 22 to 24.

A total of 37,000 registrations have been received for the congress, which was a paid event - tickets were €38 per adult for a one-day booking, with all children under 18 free. Registrations for the pastoral congress, which had been available since last June, indicate people from 114 countries will be attending.

Tickets for the WMOF2018 closing Mass are still available to book on www.worldmeeting2018.ie. It will take place at the Papal Cross in the heart of the Phoenix Park, on the afternoon of August 26, with the Mass beginning at 3pm, and Pope Francis will be the chief celebrant at it. Earlier, he will visit Knock Shrine at 9.45am, where he will visit the apparition chapel and give the Angelus address.

Irish Independent

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