Mexico said farewell to Pope Francis this week from the border city of Juárez. His journey across Mexico followed the same path that millions of immigrants have taken to reach the U.S. The culminating event of his trip was an outdoor Mass that was attended by tens of thousands of faithful who stood on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border fence—a site that served as a representation of the immigration debate raging this election year. The gathered faithful were rewarded with Pope Francis' message of the need to respect human dignity and end the plague of violence in Mexico. According to Grisel Renteria, who traveled with her daughter to get a glimpse of the pope, "We need more faith in Juárez. This pope, because of his humility and strong faith, will encourage everyone to hope for a better future. His prayers for us will help."
Eager to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis, Carlos Dominguez draws an image of a cross on the pavement in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Carlos, along with thousands of Mexican people, waited anxiously to hear the Pope deliver mass, a dream for many in Mexico. The visit marked the end of the pontiff's journey that stretched from Chiapas to Ciudad Juárez.
Standing on a platform along the border, Pope Francis greets a massive group of people gathered on both sides of the fence and blesses them, making the sign of the cross. Migrants standing on the U.S. side in El Paso, Texas, stood along the fence to pray alongside the masses gathered on the other side of the border, under the pope’s unanimous blessing.
After a brief moment of prayer, Francis walked down the ramp and got back on his popemobile to head for the fairgrounds, where he celebrated his last Mass during a five-day Mexico tour.
Wearing “I Love Pope Francis” t-shirts, migrants wait by the border fence in El Paso, Texas, to watch Pope Francis celebrate his last Mass of the tour. The outdoor service was expected to draw more than 200,000 visitors.
While in Ciudad Juárez, Pope Francis visited the CeReSo Prison to deliver a blessing, not expecting to receive a gift in return. Here, he receives a hand-made wooden cross, crafted by an inmate. The gesture was a symbol that faith can provide light in even the darkest of places.
At the heart of Mexico’s cultural center, Pope Francis gets a taste of traditional Mexican culture, as he tries on a “charro sombrero” given to him by a person in the crowd. As evidenced by his interactions with the crowds in the city center, the pope's inherent warmth and charisma give people, regardless of backgrounds and cultural differences, a sense of belonging.
Here, Pope Francis celebrates and embraces Mexico’s indigenous culture in the state of Chiapas, the least Catholic state in Mexico. In a moment of tenderness, Pope Francis stops to kiss a baby’s forehead from his popemobile. His visit to Chiapas served as a call to action to boost the faith of the state.
A traditional Mexican Mariachi band plays in front of a vibrant street mural of Pope Francis.
Souvenir shops near the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, one of the most widely recognized and visited Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world, display images of Pope Francis standing alongside the country’s cherished Virgin of Guadalupe.
As Pope Francis’ visit came to a close in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, families and border residents from both Ciudád Juarez and El Paso came together to release balloons symbolizing the hopes and struggles of immigrants.