Pope Francis concluded his trip to Asia today (January 18, 2015) with an open-air mass for a rain-drenched crowd in Manila (the capital of the Philippines) that the Vatican and government said drew up to seven million people -- the largest ever crowd for a papal event -- the Global Post website reports.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the office of the president told the Vatican that between six and seven million attended the mass in Manila's Rizal Park and surrounding areas. The Philippines have the distinction of being the only predominantly Catholic country in all of Asia.
The 78-year-old pope -- wearing a transparent yellow poncho over his white cassock -- was driven through the ecstatic crowd in a "popemobile" modified from a jeepney, the most popular mode of transportation in the Philippines which is based on a U.S. military vehicle used in World War II.
Pope Francis stopped often along the route to kiss children and bless religious statues on the day the Philippines celebrates the feast of the infant Jesus. The faithful -- also wearing ponchos -- held up rosaries in a forest of uplifted arms as he passed by them.