No room at the security checkpoint for these pilgrims [photos]


Just because you had a ticket to see Pope Francis celebrate mass on the Parkway on Sunday, doesn’t mean you were able to get in.

Many pilgrims who didn’t get into the security line early enough, ended up missing the entire thing.

The mass started at 4p.m. To get in, you had to be in line early, and, for many, five hours ahead of time was simply not early enough.

A man named Nazareno who declined to give his last name brought his family all the way from Italy to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia. They stood for hours in a sea of people as long as a football field.

“Too many people,” he said, walking away from the crowd in search of a television to watch the Mass. “It’s not possible to go in.”

Jumbotrons were not set up along the security checkpoint lines. So, many of the faithful — mere blocks from Pope Francis — could not see or hear a single thing that happened on the parkway all day.

From Bryn Mawr, Brian Frank and his wife and two children waited for five and half hours in the crowded street before finally deciding to bail.

“The government didn’t have their act together, and doesn’t know how to count, and couldn’t get everyone through security,” he said. “It’s a shame.”

Twenty-three-year-old Julia Pena is the oldest of eight children traveling with their parents from Houston, Texas. They spent Saturday night in Upper Darby, walked 8 miles to the parkway, and waited four hours in line only to realize they would not get any closer to the action.

“We didn’t make it to the checkpoint, or anywhere around it so we just found a place to watch it on a screen.”

The family, wearing matching “Pena” T-shirts, sat on the ground in front of the Comcast Center and watched Francis celebrate the Mass on television.

Was it disappointing?

“In a way it is, but we’re still happy to be here,” she said. “It’s just a joy to see that many people who still have this faith, because all you hear is that the Catholic Church is shrinking, but you see here all the joy. It’s great to be here. It’s still worth it.”

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