Mexico City celebrates arrival of Pope Francis for historic visit

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Pope Francis arrives for his historic visit in Mexico and is greeted by children on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016.

The people of Mexico City celebrated the much anticipated arrival of Pope Francis, who landed Friday for his historic visit to Mexico.

The pope and his entourage departed Friday morning from Rome's airport. Before heading to Mexico, the pope stopped in Cuba. He donned a traditional Mexican sombrero hat he received as a gift by a Mexican journalist.

His first stop was Havana's airport, where Francis met for a short time with the head of the Russian Orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill, in a ground-breaking step toward improving Catholic-Orthodox relations.

It was the first time the pope and patriarch had met in over 1,000 years. "Finally!" Francis exclaimed as he embraced Kirill in the small, wood-paneled VIP room of Havana's airport, where the three-hour encounter was taking place. "We are brothers."

They kissed one another three times on the cheek, and Kirill told the pope through an interpreter: "Now things are easier."

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, left, and Pope Francis talk during their meeting at the Jose Marti airport in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016.

After the meeting, Francis arrived in Mexico at about 7:30 p.m. local time. He will have two full days of activities, including a meeting with city leaders in the National Auditorium on Sunday as well as a quick speech.

On Saturday, the pope will hold a Mass at Basilica of Our Lady Guadalupe. The roads leading up to the famed church is already surrounded by railings in preparation for the pope's arrival.

MORE: A look at Pope Francis' jam-packed schedule
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Pope Francis is expected to arrive Friday in Mexico, where he faces a jam-packed schedule following his brief stop in Cuba.

Jane Vargas traveled all the way from Mason, Texas, and already staked out her spot behind the railing in hopes to get a glimpse of the pope.

She said this is her first time away from Texas and described the trip as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Spectators flock from all over to witness Pope Francis' historic visit to Mexico
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Jane Vargas traveled all the way from Mason, Texas, to Mexico City to be a part of Pope Francis' historic visit.

Monday will be another full day with lots of travel. He will fly from Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutierrez. From there, he will board a helicopter and head to San Cristobal de las Casas. He will then get back on the helicopter and return to Tuxtla Gutierrez, and then board a plane back to Mexico City.

Tuesday, the pope will fly from Mexico City to Morelia and return to Mexico City. Wednesday is a big one - he will fly from Mexico City to Ciudad Juarez, where he will hold a huge Mass on the border. The pope's Mass in Mexico will occur simultaneously with another Mass in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

Francis will be heading back to Rome on Wednesday.

Watch ABC7 for reports from David Ono and Mayde Gomez on the pope's trip to Mexico.
Related Topics:
pope franciscatholic churchreligionu.s. & worldMexico
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