Tue 05-02-2019 12:17 PM
ABU DHABI, 5th February, 2019 (WAM) — Thousands of Catholic faithful, including Filipino workers from across all the emirates, came together to witness the historic visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, during a celebration of a Papal Mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium today.
The Filipino Times newspaper reported that the Mass saw a 120-member choir, composed mostly of Filipinos, with Filipina conductress Joy Santos spearheading the multi-cultural voices who sang hymns in English, Arabic, and Latin.
Over one million Catholics reside across the UAE and 170,000 people had the rare opportunity to attend one of the few Papal Masses to take place outside Vatican City, but also the first-ever in the history of the region.
“Many Filipinos had camped out the night before at hotels and locations near access hubs. Ecstatic and filled with eagerness to meet the Pope, they made sure they got to the venue early, as the first batch of buses left as early as 10:00 p.m. Monday night to head towards the venue,” the UAE’s largest Filipino newspaper and biggest digital platform for Filipinos in the region stated.
The visit of the Pontiff is a positive response to the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, together with His Eminence Dr. Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, who welcomed the Pope as he arrived from the Vatican.
The Pope is expected to leave the UAE around 1:00 p.m. following a farewell ceremony at the Abu Dhabi Presidential Flight.
WAM/Rola Alghoul/Rasha Abubaker