Pope’s mass at Quirino Grandstand could draw up to six million people

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Quirino Grandstand
4 to 6 Million People are Expected to Visit Pope Francis on his visit to Manila

Police are expecting up to six million people to attend the mass officiated by Pope Francis at Manila’s Quirino Grandstand.

The service will be held on January 18 during his visit to the Philippines.

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The celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the Quirino Grandstand is the last scheduled stop of the Pope during his four-day visit in the Philippines from January 15-19.

On the last papal visit to the Philippines, Pope John Paul II had five million people attend his World Youth Day in 1995. The crowd was the largest in history to see a Pope and is listed in the Guinness World of Records. Before this, the only other pope to visit the Philippines was Paul VI.

Besides Manila, Francis will visit Tacloban and Palo, Leyte, to encourage the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. John Paul II had also gone beyond Manila to Cebu, Davao, Bacolod, Iloilo, Legazpi, Bataan and Baguio, from February 17 to 22, 1981.

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The Filipinos have nicknamed Francis Lolo Kiko(“Grandpa Francis”) as a term of endearment, which he has commended. The theme of Francis’ visit is to be “Mercy and Compassion”.

Philippine authorities will mobilise about 37,500 police and military personnel in Manila, Tacloban and Palo during the visit: 7,000 from the Armed Forces plus 5,000 reservists, 25,000 police officers, and a 450-man security force recently returned from United Nations peacekeeping missions in the Golan Heights and Liberia. Snipers will also be deployed in buildings along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.

The Philippine government is co-ordinating with Interpol and with other Southeast Asian states to monitor people who may be on Interpol’s watch list of those who went to Iraq or Syria to join the Islamic State. “We’re touching base with so many allies to … identify any threat whatsoever coming from any direction,” President Benigno Aquino III commented on the coordination efforts.

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