Crowd of 1.5 Million Brave Heat to See Pope in Portugal

An estimated 1.5 million people packed a riverside park in Portugal’s capital on Saturday, braving a relentlessly scorching sun for hours for an evening prayer service with Pope Francis.

The Parque Tejo, a new venue created for the event, covers 100 hectares (250 acres) and has no shade or structures. Some participants had to wait up to 20 minutes to refill their water bottles as temperatures reached 38 degrees Celsius.

Some arrived more than eight hours before the pope appeared in the early evening, riding in an open popemobile that took more than half an hour to snake through the crowd.

A tractor with a water tank sprayed the crowd, and a succession of bands and speakers from a huge stage with the backdrop of a cross tried to keep the participants’ minds off the heat at an event that has been dubbed the Catholic Woodstock.

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