- Title: Excited Colombians prepare for Mass by Pope Francis
- Date: 7th September 2017
- Summary: GENERAL VIEWS OF SIMON BOLIVAR PARK BEFORE MASS
- Embargoed: 21st September 2017 16:54
- Keywords: Pope Francis Bogota Mass Simon Bolivar Park Colombia visit crowds
- Location: BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
- City: BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
- Country: Colombia
- Reuters ID: LVA0046XLMCZR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Excited Colombians prepared to greet Pope Francis on Thursday (September 7) who will use his first full day in Colombia to send a message of unity, planting a tree of peace and saying a Mass to preach reconciliation in a nation bitterly divided after five decades of war.
The afternoon Mass in the capital's sprawling Simon Bolivar Park is expected to draw more than a million people. People were already saving spaces along the route to Bolivar Park, hours before the Mass was due to start.
Francis, the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, is making his 20th foreign trip since becoming pontiff in 2013 and his fifth to his native Latin America, will spend all of Thursday in Bogota and then make day visits to the cities of Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena before leaving for Rome on Sunday night.
Among his activities, the Argentine pope will hold private meetings with President Juan Manuel Santos and Catholic bishops.
Francis will encourage reconciliation for Colombians as they prepare to receive 7,000 former FARC rebels into society and aim to repair divisions after a war that killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions over five decades.
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