Organizers estimate 2 million in Rio for pope

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Pope Francis wears an indigenous feathered hat given to him by representatives of one of Brazil’s native tribes during a meeting at the Municipal Theater in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, July 27, 2013. AP

RIO DE JANEIRO — Organizers estimate that some 2 million people have come out to Copacabana beach for the final evening of World Youth day with Pope Francis.

Francis headed into the final hours of his first international trip riding a remarkable wave of popularity: Rio’s mayor estimated that as many as 3 million people might turn out for his final Mass on Sunday, and by the time Francis’ open-sided car reached the stage for Saturday night’s vigil service, the back seat was piled high with soccer jerseys, flags and flowers tossed to him by adoring pilgrims lining the route.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said organizers had estimated 2 million people were on hand for the vigil. That’s twice as many as there were at the last World Youth Day vigil in Madrid in 2011.

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