Pope Francis will celebrate mass on Monday in Ecuador to an expected crowd of more than one million people, reported the Associated Press. Francis, the first Latin American pontiff, will hold mass in the port city of Guayaquil and is expected to bring a message of compassion for the weak as he begins a trip with numerous stops around South America.
The mass will take place at the Shrine of the Divine Mercy at 12:30 p.m. ET. Afterward, the pope was expected to have lunch with a group of fellow Jesuits. A live stream of the Mass can be found at Catholic TV or the Vatican’s YouTube channel.
Francis returned to his home continent of South America on Sunday, landing in Ecuador's capital of Quito. His eight-day trip will take him to some of the poorest countries in the world with stops in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. Francis will reportedly not stop in his native Argentina to avoid getting swept up in the country’s upcoming presidential election.
It is Francis' first stop in Spanish-speaking South America as pope, his only other trip to the continent coming in 2013 to Portuguese-speaking Brazil. In his initial speech in front of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, Francis hinted at some of the key messages for his visit. He reportedly spoke about the need to care for people on society's margins, responsible economic development and caring for the Earth. "Progress and development must ensure a better future for all," Pope Francis said, according to the BBC.
He also specifically called for the defense of Ecuador's "singular beauty."
"From the peak of Chimborazo to the Pacific coast, from the Amazon rainforest to the Galapagos Islands, may you never lose the ability to thank God for what he has done and is doing for you," he said, according to Fox News.
Francis chose to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay during his eight-day tour because they are among the poorest countries in a region that holds 40 percent of the world’s Catholics, the AP reported.
Another highlight of the day will come when Pope Francis meets with an old compatriot, Rev. Francisco Cortes, known as "Padre Paquito." Francis, when he was known as Rev. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, entrusted Cortes to watch over his seminarians on study trips to Ecuador. Cortes didn't know what to expect from the planned visit.
"I don't know what to ask him," Cortes said, according to the Associated Press. "He said he wanted to see me and I'm amazed that he's coming. For the first time, I have known a pope."