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Monday, May 9, 2011

Thousands line the canals of Venice as the Pope takes a gondola ride


Pope on a boat: Benedict XVI sits in a gondola in the Grand Canal during his visit to Venice

It is an essential part of any visit to the Italian city of Venice, a ride on a gondola along the famous canals.

And for Pope Benedict XVI, the best way to travel was by water after holding an open-air mass attended by more than 300,000 people.

The mass was the spiritual highlight of Benedict's two-day visit, the first by a pope to Venice since his predecessor John Paul II plied the canals in a gondola styled for Venice's ancient rulers.

Follow me: The Pope, this time in a motor launch, is followed by many traditional boats and punts

Benedict too glided across the mouth of the Grand Canal in the same gondola, the Dogaressa, piloted by four gondolieri in white outfits and golden sashes. He was watched by thousands.

The Pope chatted quietly with Venice Cardinal Angelo Scola on the short journey, removing his white skull cap to prevent it from blowing away in the wind.

He was greeted with warm applause at the Our Lady of Good Health Basilica, where he met with cultural, artistic and economic leaders.

Earlier during the mass, Benedict spoke from beneath a huge dome constructed in the likeness of St. Mark's Basilica, replete with images of its golden mosaics of saints printed on cloth.

Please be seated: The Pope had earlier addressed a huge gathering of Italians in which he told them to be tolerant of immigrants

From Aquileia, Benedict travelled to St. Mark's Square, the heart of Venice, a city which for ages was the cultural crossroads between the East and West thanks to its strong merchant class.

He was greeted by around 25,000 well-wishers as he toured the arcade-lined square in an electric vehicle.

Benedict returned after Sunday mass to Venice's historic centre for lunch, followed by an assembly of bishops at St. Mark's Basilica.

The visit was held under tight security, with helicopters flying overhead during the mass and the Pope flanked by his personal security corps.

Crowd-pleaser: The Pontiff's boat travels under the Rialto bridge on the Grand Canal

Protection: Security around the Pope was as tight as ever

Popular: About 300,000 people attended the mass celebrated by the Pope in Venice

source: dailymail


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