Home English News ‘Rock star’ Pope Francis takes Milan by storm

‘Rock star’ Pope Francis takes Milan by storm

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Vatican City – One million believers gathered in the Monza royal park near Milan and tens of thousands packed into a football stadium on Saturday to see Pope Francis.

The Argentine pontiff’s first stop on what was his first pastoral visit to the northern city – last visited by his predecessor Benedict XIV in 2012 – was an outlying, low-income neighbourhood where he visited three families in their homes.

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Francis also met representatives from local Roma, Muslim, and immigrant families.

The pope then moved into the heart of the city for a meeting with local clergy at the Milan cathedral – the Duomo – where he answered questions from priests, nuns, and lay deacons, before blessing the faithful in the square outside.

“In Milan 20,000 people in Duomo square,” police tweeted.

He met inmates and had lunch with 100 prisoners at the San Vittore penitentiary.

He then recited an outdoor Mass before a crowd of one million believers at the Monza Park, a walled 17th-century park that includes a royal palace.

Italian media have taken to describing Francis as a “rock star” due to the huge crowds he draws on a regular basis.

Francis rounded off his tour with a triumphant entry on his popemobile at Milan’s San Siro football stadium, which was packed to its capacity of over 80,000 people with cheering crowds of youths from the Milan diocese and their families.

-dpa