Over a million gather in Madrid to greet Pope

Wednesday August 17, 2011

Over a million young pilgrims gathered for an evening mass in Spain's capital on Tuesday in anticipation of Pope Benedict XVI's arrival.

While 450,000  from 193 countries, have registered for the event, it's estimated that at least twice that will turn out when he touches down in Madrid on Thursday. 

His Holiness will appear in Plaza Cibeles where the city has erected a stage with a giant statue of the Virgin Mary.

On Friday, he is meeting King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.

He will also be received by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and opposition leader Mariano Rajoy.

Despite the chanting, excitement and religious fervour filling the streets of Madrid, there are some who oppose the estimated £40-million visit.

Rev. Federico Lombardi, chief Vatican spokesman, said in response: "This is a time of uncertainty for young people.

"The Pope is coming to Spain for World Youth Day, bringing a positive and challenging message from young people from all over the world."

Photo: © PA

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