Pope Francis held his first open-air mass in Africa on Thursday with huge crowds hailing heavy rains as “God’s blessing” as they sung and danced in the Kenyan capital.
The 78-year-old pontiff received a tumultuous welcome as he arrived in an open-topped Popemobile, smiling and waving as worshippers cheered, ululated and raised their hands in the air.
At least 200,000 people crammed into the park at the University of Nairobi, Kenyan media said, in the pope’s first major public appearance on a six-day trip which will also take him to Uganda and Central African Republic (CAR).
“It is beautiful,” beamed a nun called Sister Rachel. “We all sat through the rain and were not worried.”
“This is a very important moment in my life because I’ve never had the chance of attending a papal mass,” said another pilgrim called Paul Ndivangu who arrived three hours before dawn after travelling 200 kilometres (120 miles) from the northern town of Nyeri.