After a bomb, riots and mass adulation, Pope takes rest on Brazil tour


Pope Francis was resting Tuesday after a tumultuous start to his Brazil trip that included the discovery of a bomb at a shrine he is due to visit.

Francis was welcomed by thousands of people as he drove into Rio de Janeiro Tuesday, though at one point the adulation threatened to get out of hand when his car was forced to stop by the crush of people, Reuters reported.

People surrounded the pontiff’s small silver Fiat to take photos and touch him through the open window. Bodyguards moved in to push back the crowd.

Concern over his security was heightened following the discovery of a home-made pipe bomb in Aparecida, Sao Paulo state.

A security source said it was found in a public bathroom at the Aparecida Shrine during a routine security sweep of the area on Sunday. The explosive device, which was described as not very powerful, was detonated on Monday.

The huge shrine is built around a small clay statue of the Virgin Mary that is a figure of worship for millions of Brazilians.

There were clashes Monday during protests outside Rio's Guanabara Palace, where the pope met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and where hundreds of dignitaries took part in the official welcome ceremony.

The violence broke out as about 1,500 demonstrators staged a rally with an equal number of security forces between them and the palace.

Globo TV showed video of masked protestors burning an effigy representing the governor. Analysts said the protest was aimed at the government and had nothing to do with the pope.

However Reuters reported that demonstrations aimed at the Catholic Church were planned during the pope’s visit, mostly by feminists, gay rights groups and others who disagree with the Church's long-standing social doctrines.

Francis chose to leave the bulletproof popemobile at home because he likes to be able to get off his car to meet people, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told Reuters.

In central Rio on Monday, Francis switched to a large white open truck to wave to thousands of well-wishers, some of whom climbed trees, bus stops and newspaper kiosks to see him.

"I felt the call of God," Mari Therese Reyes, 32, of the Philippines who saved money for six months for her trip, told Reuters. "It's not just to see the pope. It is an encounter with Christ."

Markus Hemmert, a 38-year-old German pilgrim who took three months to cycle to Brazil from Chicago, said: "I love the pope very much."

The pope is taking part in a number of activities linked to World Youth Day.

On Friday in Rio, he will walk the Stations of the Cross during an event on Copacabana beach expected to attract more than a million people and then on Saturday he will hold an evening vigil.

The church's first Jesuit leader will also venture into a rough slum that sits along a violence-soaked road known by locals as the Gaza Strip, Reuters reported.