Under the cloud cover of a temperate fall afternoon, Philadelphia experienced one of its most historic moments yet: a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The Mass was said to be attended by hundreds of thousands of people, and many experienced hours-long waits to go through security checkpoints to enter the ticketed general admission area.

Thousands packed the parkway to get a glimpse of Pope Francis — either in person as he rode down the street, or on one of 40 Jumbotron screens that lined the sidewalks.


Mary Kate Catalino, a senior at St. Joseph’s University, attended the papal Mass with her mom and her aunt. She called seeing Pope Francis this weekend as “just incredible.”

“It really is indescribable,” she said. “My hope is that everyone who felt his presence this weekend was impacted by Pope Francis in some way and will be more welcoming and loving to those most deserving. I am excited to the results of his visit in whatever shape and form they may be.”

In his homily delivered in Spanish, Pope Francis emphasized the role of the family and the role of love in shaping society.

“Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home,” he said. “Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith.”

Pope Francis exuded the humility and humor that has defined his papacy as he closed the Mass by saying, “May God bless you, and please pray for me — don’t forget!” which was met with a chuckle from the crowd.

“Mass was a great culmination to a wonderful weekend,” Catalino said. “People were truly brought together as seen through the thousands gathered on the parkway and the many different languages spoken throughout Mass. I will not forget to pray for Pope Francis and will forever be grateful for the memories he has given me this weekend.”