Havana's Revolution Square packed ahead of pope's mass
HAVANA, Cuba – Havana's iconic Revolution Square was packed full early Sunday morning, September 20, with Catholic faithful and fans of Pope Francis crowding in to hear the pontiff give mass, the highlight of his Cuba trip.
Hundreds of Cubans and foreign visitors began streaming into the sprawling square overnight, camping out for hours to see the first Latin American pope on his most high-profile trip to date, which will also take him to the United States.
By sunrise there were already several thousand people in the plaza, and free space was hard to find.
Volunteers from the Cuban Red Cross stood watch over the crowd.
"It's very exciting to see Pope Francis. He'll be the third pope I've managed to see, but I've never been so close. We're all hoping to receive his mercy," said Maria Eugenia Paulina Prieto, 56, who sings in a choir that will perform during the ceremony.
Nearly a million people are expected for the mass, including Cuban President Raul Castro and Argentine President Cristina Kirchner.
Francis is the third pope to visit the communist island in 17 years, and all have given mass near the sprawling portrait of Cuban revolutionary hero Che Guevara that looms above Revolution Square.
John Paul II's mass here drew one million people, while Benedict XVI's drew 300,000. – Rappler.com