Mexico prepares for historic visit by Pope

March 23, 2012 3:45:24 PM PDT
Pope Benedict XVI is on his way to Mexico, the first stop on an historic Latin-American trip that will also take him to Cuba.

The Pope will arrive in Leon, Mexico Friday afternoon where he will receive a spectacular greeting. Many Houstonians will be among the faithful.

This morning, people were already lining the streets of Leon. They're getting in place to witness Pope Benedict XVI pass by in his first visit to Mexico. Nearly every business in Leon is closed in anticipation and last-minute papal decorations are hung outside Leon's picturesque cathedral, where the pope will speak over the weekend.

Near the cathedral, barricades are set up on the narrow streets.

We talked to some Houston area residents who made the pilgrimage. Pilar Salas of Spring Branch is carrying plenty of prayers from fellow parishioners in the form of letters that will be blessed as the Pope passes.

"They were letters they wanted me to take so they can be with me, close to their heart," Salas said.

The Pope is expected to be in Leon at 5pm local time. He will be spending the next six days visiting Mexico and Cuba spreading a message of faith and peace.

And after a four hour drive from Mexico City, many faithful Catholics are arriving in town hoping to express love for the pontiff.

"To hear what the pope has to say to Mexico, it's very important for this country," said Moses Alcalde, who drove from Mexico City to see the pope.

And when the pope makes his way through the streets of Leon, in the northern state of Guanajuato, faithfuls hope for an experience that can cherish for a lifetime.

"The message that he has to send about religion, about peace, about hope, we as Mexicans, we need to have renewal of our faith," Alcalde said.

His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, was hugely popular in Mexico, drawing nearly a million faithful during his visit.

Erik Barajas is reporting from Mexico on the Pope's visit. Christine Dobbyn will also have a live update from Cuba on preparations there. Stay with ABC13 Eyewitness News and abc13.com for the latest coverage on the Pope's travels.


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