3 Million Crowd Copacabana to Hear Pope
It's the second-most attended papal address ever
By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2013 12:33 PM CDT
Nuns dance as they wait for the start of a a vigil on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, July 27, 2013. Pope Francis drew faithful for the final evening of World Youth Day.   (Luca Zennaro)

(Newser) – Take note, Mick Jagger: For the final Mass of his historic return to Latin America, Pope Francis basically sold out not a stadium, but an entire 2.5 mile beach. As the AP reports, Francis this morning headed to Rio's Copacobana Beach, where some 3 million cheering faithful crammed onto the sand to hear the pontiff close out World Youth Day. "The church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you!" Francis told the masses, urging the youth to embrace "the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent."

The crowd showered Francis with T-shirts, soccer jerseys, and flags as he made his way through, and the AP notes that his normally dour bodyguards cracked smiles in the face of the jubilation. But Rio was clearly unprepared for the sheer number of people: Garbage and human waste overwhelmed existing services as trash collectors struggled to keep up. Francis' Mass in Rio clocked in at the No. 2 papal address; only Pope John Paul II's 1995 Mass in the Philippines attracted more people, with an estimated 5 million. World Youth Day heads next to Krakow, Poland, in 2016.