QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Here are the latest developments from Pope Francis’ trip to South America:
Pope Francis is using a rustic pastoral staff during this eight-day visit to South America.
The papal spokesman says the staff is a replica of a wooden staff that was made for Francis by prisoners at an Italian detention facility but then was lost or damaged.
During Francis’ trip to the Holy Land last year, he received a replica made from olive wood and he used it Monday at an open-air Mass in Guayaquil, Ecuador, that drew hundreds of thousands of faithful.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, says it will likely become the pope’s “travel staff” for use on foreign trips.
Ecuador’s president had a bit of surprise for Pope Francis after their meeting at the Carondolet palace Monday evening.
The 78-year-old pontiff who’d had a long day in the sun on the coast emerged from the 50-minute session to find a reception line stretching into the distance.
President Rafael Correa spent a quarter hour introducing the pope to dozens of people: Ecuador’s entire Cabinet, deputy ministers, military officials and others.
The pope then walked 50 meters (150 feet) to Quito’s cathedral. Inside, he left a bouquet of white roses at the feet of a statue of the Virgin Mary, placed a rosary on its hand and briefly prayed silently.
He then went out on the steps to address a crowd, many of whom had waited hours to see him and endured a deluge.
But instead of giving the short speech that he had prepared, Francis offered a brief blessing for the “noble Ecuadorean people.”
Pope Francis is back in Ecuador’s capital and he is making a formal courtesy visit to President Rafael Correa at the Carondelet Palace on Monday night.
Francis’ gift to the president has a personal touch: a reproduction of an important icon of the Madonna with Child.
The original Byzantine mosaic dates from the 13th century and is in the Roman basilica where on Aug. 22, 1541, St. Ignatius Loyola and his confreres professed their religious vows. Their order became the Jesuits — the Society of Jesus religious order to which Francis belongs and which played a fundamental role in the history and development of Latin America.
Vatican mosaic specialists made a replica of the icon working with the same type of glue composition used centuries ago to affix the mosaics inside St. Peter’s Basilica.
A punishing rain and hail storm has soaked tens of thousands who lined up outside the park in Quito, Ecuador, where Pope Francis is saying Mass on Tuesday.
People grabbed what they could to protect themselves. They tore vinyl advertising placards off the metal fences surrounding the park, which was Quito’s international airport until two years ago.
Some just shrugged it off.
Although her clothes were soaked and she shivered in the cold of Quito’s 9,000-foot altitude, Angelica Naranjo said: “This isn’t a sacrifice. It’s a demonstration of faith.”
Like others, she had a backpack, suitcase and food to sustain her. She added, “God suffered more than we do with this rain.”
Just as the rain eased, officials opened the park early and people began filing in.
Quito security chief Juan Zapata says officials will distribute blankets from stocks kept by civil defense authorities for emergencies.
The pope has wrapped up a seven-hour stay in Ecuador’s biggest city and is flying back to the capital of Quito.
During the day, Pope Francis celebrated an outdoor Mass for hundreds of thousands of people gathered under a broiling sun at Samanes Park on the northern edge of the port city of Guayaquil.
He then had a private lunch with fellow Jesuits, before heading to the airport and his plane back to Quito.
Pope Francis had a chance to sample seafood from the Ecuadorean coast while meeting with fellow Jesuit priests in the port city of Guayaquil.
The entrees were shrimp ceviche and a chicken broth. Then the main course was grilled sea bass. Desert was tropical fruit and sweets made by women who work in a Jesuit school in Portoviejo, about 85 miles (136 kilometers) north of Guayaquil.
The Rev. Pedro Barriga, the 89-year-old leader of the Jesuit school in Guayaquil, says the meal last nearly an hour. He says the meeting was very informal, and the pope went around and shook everybody’s hand.
Were the dishes tasty?
“Don’t ask me about the food,” Barriga said with a laugh. “I have poor taste. I eat everything they put in front of me.”
Before Monday, it had been 30 years since the Rev. Francisco Cortes last saw Pope Francis, who then was simply the Rev. Jorge Mario Bergoglio and was in charge of the Jesuit order in Argentina.
The now nearly 91-year-old Cortes must have made a strong impression with his work at the Colegio Javier parochial school mentoring young men sent to him by the future pontiff. His meeting with Francis on Monday was the only private one-on-one session that the pope scheduled for his visit to Ecuador.
After Francis arrived following a huge outdoor Mass in Guayaquil, Cortes gave a bouquet to the pontiff and they embraced.
Cortes told The Associated Press earlier that he was perplexed by the pope’s invitation.
In his words, “I don’t know why he set the meeting. We haven’t even corresponded. I’m really just a Mr. Nobody.”
Pope Francis has arrived at a Jesuit-run secondary school in Guayaquil for lunch with a handful of fellow Jesuits.
Two youngsters presented Francis with flowers and other gifts as he arrived at the Colegio Javier. In exchange, they received a papal hug.
Francis also could be seen embracing an elderly man. While at the school, the pope is scheduled to meet with the Rev. Francisco Cortes, the 91-year-old headmaster known affectionately as “Padre Paquito.”
When Francis was the Rev. Jorge Mario Bergoglio in his native Argentina, he used to send his seminarians on study trips to the Javier school in Guayaquil, entrusting them to Cortes.
Cortes has said the last time he spoke to Bergoglio was some 30 years ago and he couldn’t believe the pope remembered him.
Flags of more than half a dozen countries can be seen waving in the air at a Mass that Pope Francis is celebrating in Guayaquil, a humid port city that is Ecuador’s largest.
The variety of flags include: Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, the United States, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Chile and Puerto Rico.
“I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see Francis,” said Norma Peralta, from neighboring Peru. “It took me about 10 hours driving to get here. It’s cheaper than going to the Vatican.”
Pope Francis is focusing his homily on the family while celebrating Mass at a large park in Ecuador’s coastal city of Guayaquil.
Francis gave the example of a mother and her children, saying she loves all of them equally.
“The family is also a small church, a domestic church,” said Francis. “With life, it channels tenderness and divine mercy.”
Hundreds of thousands listened to the pope at Semanes Park while standing in the hot sun and using handkerchiefs to wipe sweat from their brows.
Hundreds of thousands of faithful cheered Pope Francis as he arrived at the Semanes Park in Guayaquil. The pope planned to celebrate Mass at the park in the Ecuadorean coastal city, the country’s largest with 2.35 million residents.
Riding in the popemobile, Francis waved to the crowds. People waved handkerchiefs and Vatican flags.
The port city is known for its heat and humidity, at noon was already 86 degree Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius).
Pope Francis has arrived at the Divine Mercy shrine in the Ecuadorean coastal city of Guayaquil. Upon arrival to the shrine, the outstretched hand of a young child nearly poked Francis in the eye. The pope smiled as he continued walking.
Francis then spent a minute praying at the shrine beneath a large painting of Jesus. The pope told the crowd he would pray for them.
“And I won’t charge you a thing,” he joked. “All I ask is that you pray for me. Will you promise me that?”
After visiting the shrine, the pope plans to celebrate Mass at a park with more than 1 million people.
A self-proclaimed “Mr. Nobody” soon will be sharing the spotlight with one of the world’s most famous people.
It’s been 30 years since the Rev. Francisco Cortes last spoke with Pope Francis, who at that time was the Rev. Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
Cortes, known as Padre Paquito, must have made quite an impression on Bergoglio, who in Argentina was in charge of the Jesuit order that the men share.
Cortes, who is 91 years old and a Spaniard by birth, was to spend five minutes with the pope on Monday. They will meet in a small room adorned by flowers and religious paintings after Francis celebrates an outdoor Mass in the Ecuadorean coastal city of Guayaquil.
“I don’t know why he set the meeting. We haven’t even corresponded,” Cortes told The Associated Press in an interview. “I’m really just a Mr. Nobody.”
A handful of altar boys took selfie photos with Pope Francis upon his arrival in Guayaquil, a port city in Ecuador where the pope plans to celebrate Mass with up to 1 million people. The altar boys were waiting on the tarmac and approached the pontiff when he descended from his plane.
Francis also was met by Mayor Jaime Nebot, who gave him the keys to the city, which were gold and silver, encrusted with pearls.
Pope Francis has landed in Guayaquil, an Ecuadorean port city where he plans to celebrate Mass in a park. More than 1 million people are expected to attend Mass at the Samanes Park in northern Guayaquil.
While in the city, Francis also plans to meet with members of his Jesuit order.
If nature calls while Pope Francis is celebrating Mass in Ecuador’s port city of Guayaquil, a special bathroom is set up for him.
Sitting behind the pavilion in the Samanes Park, authorities built a spacious bathroom that includes a large toilet, a shower, a large mirror, an Asian-style rug and a painting of Jesus.
Teresa Arboleda, a popular television personality in Ecuador, toured the bathroom and described it to viewers. She says the bathroom has white walls and light that shines in from above giving it a bright feel.
More than 1 million people are expected to attend Mass at the park.
Hours before Pope Francis arrives in Ecuador’s port city of Guayaquil, thousands are already waiting in the Samanes Park where the pope is expected to celebrate Mass with up to 1 million people.
Guillermina Aveiga Davila, a 90-year-old retired accountant, says she arrived in the middle of the night. She traveled from Chone, about 104 miles (167 kilometers) north of Guayaquil.
“This is the first time I’ll be able to see a pope,” said Davila, accompanied be five family members.
Vicente Huilcatoma Montes, a 47-year-old school bus driver, says he arrived at 5 p.m. on Sunday to make sure he found a good spot close to the front. He says he walked 25 miles (40 kilometers) with a procession from the southern part of Guayaquil to the park, which is in the far northern part of the city.
“I’m tired, hungry and I haven’t slept but I feel such emotion and joy in my heart,” he said.
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