“A life’s dream”: In Bahrain, flags and emotions at the papal mass

“A life’s dream”: In Bahrain, flags and emotions at the papal mass

“It’s a lifelong dream”: With Vatican flags and smartphones in hand, around 30,000 people attended Pope Francis’ mass in Bahrain on Saturday, the third day of his visit to the Muslim kingdom in the Gulf.

“We’ve been here since one in the morning, we haven’t slept. We’re so excited at the prospect of seeing the Pope!”, Philomina Abranches, a 46-year-old Indian volunteer who took part in organizing the event.

“It’s a lifetime dream for everyone to see him. We all call him ‘Dad’. Above all, he represents peace in the world, which is what we need now,” he adds.

Like them, many faithful from Asian countries and other countries of the Arab world, families and religious arrived at dawn in the country’s largest sports arena, located in Riffa, south of the capital Manama.

According to the authorities, around 30,000 people from 111 nationalities were present at the stadium.

During his four-day visit – the first visit by a pope to this island nation of 1.4 million people – Argentina’s high priest greeted and blessed crowds as he arrived aboard his “popemobile” and hugged children and babies to applause from the faithful.

“Here he is!” said some people, many capturing the scene with their smartphones while children perched on their parents’ shoulders tried to catch a glimpse of the man in white.

– “opportunity” –

“Ever since John Paul II, people have been aware that the apostolic journeys of the popes really make it possible to go to the heart of the countries, of the Christian population,” explains Brother Emmanuel Pisani, director of the Dominican Institute of Oriental Studies in Cairo first row.

“Despite his real handicaps, Pope Francis is pursuing this,” he adds in front of the grandstand, where an imposing golden cross dominates the altar framed by two huge screens.

Jorge Bergoglio, who turns 86 next month, suffers from chronic knee pain that forces him to use a wheelchair.

In his homily, which was held in Spanish, he called for a “real life of universal brotherhood” in a country that is “a living image of the conviviality of diversity”.

As the speakers perform the choir’s songs in English and Arabic, Marguerite Heida, 63, says she is “lucky” to attend the “biggest event of the year.”

“People usually go to Italy to see the Pope and they don’t always get there. I saw him yesterday at church and will see him today. I was also able to shake his hand and get his blessing,” confides this Christian from Bahrain.

The kingdom, which established diplomatic ties with the Holy See in 2000, has about 80,000 Catholics, mostly Asian workers, according to the Vatican.

That visit, the Pope’s 39th overseas visit since his election in 2013 and second to the Arabian Peninsula, is due to last until Sunday.

Reference: www.challenges.fr

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