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francis is one in six million

A record six million people turned out for Pope Francis' outdoor Mass in Manila's Rizal Park, in the Philippines, including those who lined the streets for his motorcade to the site, a city official said. It was the culminating event of his week-long trip to Asia, which began in Sri Lanka.

"Our wait and getting soaked in the rain was all worth it because we saw him," said Ria de Jesus, 43, who left her home north of Manila with her daughter at 2am to get to the park at 4am. "We have no regrets."

The Pope won praise for the vehicle he used to travel to the Mass - a popemobile modeled on a "jeepney," an inexpensive public transport option widely used in the Philippines.

"He loves us in his heart, that's why he used that," said Joel Cuellar, a 42-year-old vendor from Bataan, a province about a four-hour drive north of Manila. "Because if he didn't, he could have used a limousine."

Pope Francis celebrated his final Mass on his visit to the Philippines on the same day devotees celebrate the feast of the Child Jesus, or Santo Nino (Holy Child).

Many who had gathered for the Mass carried images of the Santo Nino in colourful garb, hoping they would be blessed by the pope.

Francis said the Santo Nino's message is "We are all God's children, members of God's family."

In his homily at Rizal Park, he said: "We squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets. We squander our money on gambling and drink. We turn in on ourselves. We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter."

hnews@herald.ie


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