Cheering, maskless crowds lined Pontiff’s motorcade for 60,000-person mass

Pope Francis urged Slovaks on Wednesday to look out for the neediest among them as he ended his first post-surgery trip with a huge open-air Mass that drew tens of thousands of people amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Associated Press reports.

Cheering, maskless crowds lined Francis’ motorcade route through Sastin, 15 kilometers (about 10 miles) from Slovakia’s western border, and they were rewarded with a slow-moving popemobile jaunt and a smiling, waving Francis as he arrived at the vast field.

Organizers said 60,000 people attended the Mass, the biggest crowd at any event during the pope’s four-day pilgrimage to Slovakia, a Central European nation of some 5.5 million people

The venue was the Our Lady of Sorrows national shrine, Slovakia’s most important one dedicated to the Virgin Mary, where St. John Paul II prayed in 1995. Each Sept. 15, pilgrims from Slovakia and beyond flock to Sastin on the feast day of Slovakia’s patron, with some this year spending the night on the dusty field to get a better spot.

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