Hundreds of thousands gather in Philadelphia for Papal Mass

Hundreds of thousands gather in Philadelphia for Papal Mass
(Source: Shannon Cogan/WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Shannon Cogan/WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Shannon Cogan/WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Shannon Cogan/WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Shannon Cogan/WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Shannon Cogan/WAVE 3 News)

PHILADELPHIA, PA (WAVE) - Hundreds of thousands gathered on the Ben Franklin Parkway for the Papal Mass on Sunday afternoon.

Despite the number in attendance, people were quiet and focused, listening to the homily that focused on faith and love.

"I'm overwhelmed by the crowds and how loving everyone seems to be, and how happy everyone seems to be here," said Lourdes Halliday of Louisville.

She called it "divine intervention" that she and another friend from Louisville were in the right place at the right time, close to the route taken by Pope Francis' motorcade. They say the were only about 10 feet away from him.

Prior to the mass Louisville's David George performed on stage, which was erected not far from the famed steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He played the piano while Anthony Kearns, one of the original Irish tenors, sang.

We met with them at their hotel prior to the performance.

"I usually don't get very nervous for performances, but (I'm a) little fluttering right now," said George, who is on the music faculty at Bellarmine University and is also the University of Louisville's pianist.

Beforehand he said that Sunday's performance would be his most important.

"It was never on my bucket list, how could this happen?" George said.

Kearns says when he learned he was singing at such a huge, and important, event he knew who to call.

"I said, 'I need a pair of steady hands. Someone that's calm as (a) backup behind me should anything go wrong,'" Kearns said.

Earlier in the day, Pope Francis met privately with victims of sex abuse by clergy.

"I am profoundly sorry," he told them, "everyone responsible will be held accountable."

The Holy Father also went to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, Philly's largest prison, and spoke with about 100 inmates. He talked of redemption and hugged some, but he did not wash the feet of any inmates, something he has been known to do in the past.

But the Mass for the Masses was, for many, the highlight.

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