Pope Francis left the Philippines on Monday, ending his week-long trip to Asia, which culminated with the record-breaking Mass, attended by over six million people. The Pontiff left for the Vatican from Manila around 7:30am (IST).
Vatican officials have confirmed that the rain-soaked Mass held at Rizal Park in Manila, was attended by almost seven million people, reported DNA. The crowds in millions flocked to listen to the Pope in person, thanks to Philippines being Asia's most populous Catholic nation.
The devotees at Rizal Park on Sunday afternoon made for the largest crowd for any Papal event. The previous record was held by the almost five million worshippers who went to the same venue to attend the Mass by Pope John Paul about 20 years ago in 1995.
The Pope has spent a week in Asia, also visiting Sri Lanka before arriving at the Philippines, to spread the message of "mercy and compassion," and marking the continent as a growth region for the Catholic Church.
On Monday, like on Thursday, when he arrived at the Manila airport, streets were packed with believers who wanted a glimpse of the Holy Father.
President Benigno Aquino III, church leaders and 400 street children yelled "Viva Santo Papa!" and "Pope Francis we love you," as the Pontiff boarded a Philippine Airlines plane for a flight to Rome.
Unlike the other days of his visit, the day of his departure was devoid of heavy rains. In fact, bad weather had led to the cutting short of some of his events, especially his visit to Tacloban city.
He visited the victims of the fatal typhoon, Haiyaan, and listened to their stories, before conducting a Mass. Tropical Storm Mekkhala, however, proved a hindrance to his previously planned longer stay.
Highlights from Sunday Mass sermon:
- Listen to women. '(we) don't allow room for women but women are capable of seeing things with a different angle from us, with a different eye...Women have much to tell us '
- Learn how to weep. 'If you don't learn how to cry, you can't be good Christians'.
- Cherish all children. 'We need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected'.
- Express opinions through dialogues and Find ways to co-exist. 'For all the nations of the world, that they may work together towards the dialogue of solidarity, the culture of peace, sharing of good and generosity of people of goodwill. Let us pray to the Lord'
- Spread God's message. 'This is the mission of every Christian: lumina pandit, to spread the light and to tell the world of God's love.'