Millions of Mexicans Take to Streets to Greet Pope

John Paul II Praises Their Enthusiasm

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MEXICO CITY, Aug. 1, 2002 ( Millions of Mexicans crowd the streets to greet John Paul II during his fifth pastoral visit to the country.

Since the Basilica of Guadalupe can only accommodate a few thousand pilgrims, where the canonization of Juan Diego and the beatification of two martyrs took place, an estimated 10 million people have tried to catch a glimpse of the Pope in his «popemobile.»

On Wednesday morning, the Holy Father passed through the main square, the Zocalo, where thousands of young people were gathered after participating in a prayer vigil the night before.

It took the Pope four minutes to cross the Square and greet the youth. The prayer vigil was entitled by the young people as the «John Paul 2000 Generation, United by Faith.»

After the Holy Father left the square, the young people returned to the center of the Zocalo to watch his progress and Juan Diego’s canonization on a giant television screen.

In addition to the young people, many other pilgrims, the majority from distant provinces, spent the night in the open, singing and praying in the historic center.

After his arrival on Tuesday, the Holy Father recalled his visit to Mexico in 1979, the first visit of his pontificate, saying, it was the beginning of the «Apostolic travels which have taken me as the Successor of the Apostle Peter to so many parts of the world, bringing me close to many men and women to strengthen them in their faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ.»

The Pope often sums up the enthusiasm shown by the Mexican people during that visit over 23 years ago and the subsequent visits with the phrase: «Mexico ever faithful!»

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