(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis visited the metropolitan cathedral of Quito, Ecuador, on Monday, the second day of his Apostolic Voyage to Latin America. The visit to the cathedral followed a courtesy call on the President of the Republic of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, and included some remarks to the faithful, a small number of whom were gathered inside the church proper, and a great throng of whom were gathered outside in the cathedral square.
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The cathedral itself is a remarkable structure: originally constructed of adobe and thatch, it was rebuilt beginning in the middle of the 16th century in order to fill its new role as the central place of worship and seat of the bishop of the new diocese. Using stone carried from Mount Pichincha, in the shadow of which stands the city of Quito, the cathedral was built over three years, starting in 1562, and was finally consecrated in 1572. Earthquakes have several times caused major damage, after which major repair and renovation projects have followed, with the present visible structure being primarily work completed in the latter half of the 18th century.
Emerging from the cathedral after a moment of prayerful recollection before a statue of Our Lady holding the infant Jesus, and another of silent adoration before Our Eucharistic Lord in the Tabernacle, Pope Francis greeted the crowd in the square and offered his blessing. “I'm going to give the blessing,” he said, “I'll give the blessing to each of you, for your families, for all loved ones and for this great nation and noble Ecuadorean people, that there be no difference, no exclusion, no people discarded, that all might be brothers and sisters, a blessing that goes to everyone and that there be none left out of this great Ecuadorian nation. To each of you, your families, goes the blessing, but first let us pray together a Hail Mary.”
And the people prayed the great prayer of Marian devotion, and Pope Francis blessed them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and then he asked the people to pray for him, and he bade them good evening, and took his leave.
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