Argentina blends devotion and marketing with pope

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 17, 2013 at 5:20 pm •  Published: March 17, 2013
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — From slum chapels to Buenos Aires' imposing cathedral, Argentines celebrated their pope in Sunday Masses.

While the faithful prayed, vendors sold papal memorabilia and workers installed huge screens in the capital's central Plaza de Mayo in preparation for an all-night vigil ahead of Francis' formal installation ceremony, which will begin before dawn Tuesday Argentina time.

Mass in the slums began earlier and seemed more intimate. At the Villa 21-24, one of the capital city's most dangerous slums, many recalled how as an archbishop, Jorge Mario Bergoglio blessed their tiny Caacupe Virgin of the Miracles chapel.

Not everyone could fit inside its yellow walls with painted saints and many stood outside. Blanca Franco, a 58-year-old housewife, listened and shed some tears.

"I have feelings in my heart that only God knows," Franco said. "I'm happy about the appointment of our archbishop."

Nearby, Marcos Manuel Solar, a 28-year-old former drug addict, smiled widely as he told passers-by that he had received the rite of confirmation from the pope himself. Solar, who works at a soup kitchen, said he kicked the habit through a rehab program funded by the church.

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