POPE Francis was welcomed with cheers and prayers when he arrived at the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican embassy that will serve as his official residence, on Taft Avenue Thursday evening.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Msgr. Mark Gerard Miles of the nunciature was with the Pope aboard the white, open popemobile for the motorcade that lasted 40 minutes.

From Villamor Air Base in Pasay, the popemobile passed Andrews Avenue, Domestic Road, and Roxas Boulevard, before turning right to Quirino Avenue at around 6:50 p.m.

“Noong nag-dry run kami dito kahapon, 40 minutes lang. So, nasunod ‘yung plano,” an MMDA officer said.

The crowd, some of whom had waited as early as 4:00 a.m., cheered “Pope Francis, We Love You,” “Viva Il Papa,” and “Papa Francesco, Mabuhay ka!” as the Holy Father passed by.

To control the crowd, thousands of personnel from the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Navy, the Philippine Marines, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, local government units, and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) formed the outermost of a three-layer “human barricade” on Quirino Avenue at around 3:00 p.m.

Volunteers from Holy Rosary, Santisima Trinidad, Our Lady of the Abandoned, and Saint Pius X parishes manned the second and the third layers.

As part of security measures near the Pope’s official residence for five days, DPWH mounted metal barricades at the intersection of Taft and Quirino avenues.

According to the official papal itinerary, Pope Francis is expected to leave the nunciature for Malacañang 9:00 in the morning Friday for a courtesy call on President Benigno Aquino III.

Afterward, he will offer Holy Mass for the clergy at Manila Cathedral. After the Mass, the Pontiff will go back to the nunciature. He will leave at 4:05 in the afternoon for a meeting with families at Mall of Asia Arena. Angeli Mae S. Cantillana


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