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Catholics thrilled by promised Pope visit: 'He can have a cheesteak!'

In the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, mother church of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Sunday, excitement over the potential visit of Pope Francis was palpable.

Pope Francis talks to the faithful at the end of a visit to parish San Gregorio Magno in Rome April 6, 2014. Credit: Reuters Pope Francis.
Credit: Reuters

The news spread like wildfire across the nation after Archbishop Charles Chaput, visiting Fargo, North Dakota on Friday, said after homily that Pope Francis confirmed he will visit Philadelphia in 2015.

Excitement over the potential visit of Pope Francis was palpable on Sunday in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, mother church of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

"It's gonna be fantastic for the city and for the pope to get a taste of American culture," said Claudia Boggi, 20, of West Chester. "Philly's one of the most cultured cities in the country. He'll get to go and have a cheesesteak! I think he'll have a good time."

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On Friday, Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput announced that Pope Francis said he will indeed come to Philadelphia for the 2015 World Meeting of Families.

A visit to Philadelphia by the pope would be expected to draw a million visitors to the city. Mayor Michael Nutter and Gov. Tom Corbett traveled to The Vatican in Rome in March to make their personal entreaty to Pope Francis.

"That's a once-in-a-lifetime thing," said Dave Reino, 20, of West Chester, about the chance to see Pope Francis.

Reino said his grandmother still talks about meeting Pope John Paul II in 1979 when held mass at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. That event attracted more than a million visitors.

Carlos Mendoza, a Catholic visiting from Peru with his wife, son and daughter, said Pope Francis is "amazing" and that the family would return to Philadelphia to see him if he comes to the city.

The Archdiocese released a statement saying that the pope's visit is still not officially confirmed, but that Chaput spoke based on personal conversations with the pope. Official confirmation is expected six months before the event, the Archdiocese said.

Archbishop Charles Chaput said that Pope Francis personally confirmed that he will visit Philadelphia for three days during the eighth World Meeting of Families, to be held on Sept. 22-27, 2015, Catholic News Service reported.

Held every three years, the World Meeting (also called the World Congress of Families) was inaugurated in 1994 under Pope John Paul II.

Philadelphia will be the first North American city to host the event.

 
 
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