Pope rancis greeted by two children and president Varela
Nearly 60,000 pilgrims had entered Panama by 7:00 am on Thursday, January 24, for the World Youth Day (WYD) , which started on Tuesday 22 and ends on Sunday, January 27. A cruise ship carrying some 1,800 pilgrims will dock on Friday, but the attendance from other countries seems likely to fall well below even the reduced forecast of 250,000.
The latest figure does not include people participating in the religious activities with Pope Francisco or the 2,500 journalists covering the WYD.
When Panama was named in Krakow, Poland as the next WYD location, the figure of 400,000 pilgrims was optimistically bandied about. That was later reduced to 250,000. leaving a lot to make up. But anyone who has seen the bands of happy young people on the streets proudly displaying their WYD shirts and waving the national flags of nearly 200 countries will recognize that what they may lack in numbers they make up in enthusiasm.
Some 3.5 million visited Krakow but the record is held by the Philippines with 5 million
Of the total reported by Migration, 37,971 pilgrims entered through the Tocumen International Airport and12,477 entered through Paso Canoas, the border between Panama and Costa Rica.
The Howard Airport saw the arrival of 4,410 and 1,894 through Paso Canoas.
Pope Francis, arrived at 4:15 p.m at Tocumen International Airport on Wednesday, January 23 He was received by President Juan Carlos Varela and his wife Lorena Castillo a host of dignitaries and traditional costumed dancers and musicians. He traveled initially by car, waving through the window to crowds lining the route to the San Fernando Hospital where he transferred to the waiting Popemobile for the rest of the journey passing thousands of waiting spectators, many of whom had gathered behind the security barriers since 9 a.m. The convoy of accompanying vehicles traveled along Via Espana through Calidonia to Plaza Cinco De Mayo, with Pope Francis standing in the popemobile, one hand on supporting rail, the other extended, to bless the cheering spectators on the route to another crowd that had waited since morning at the entrance to the Papal Nunciature, in Clayton which will be his residence during his stay in Panama.,. It is located close to the United States Embassy
His visit which includes a prison call, ends on Sunday, after a closing mass expected to attract over half a million on Sunday, January 27