Pope visits Pompeii shrine

Pope visits Pompeii shrine

Pope Benedict XVI travelled to a shrine near the ruins of ancient Pompeii to celebrate Mass and pray to the Virgin Mary.

The pope flew from the Vatican by helicopter to the 19th century sanctuary, where thousands of pilgrims were waiting.

He is scheduled to depart later today.

The shrine draws some four million faithful each year to Pompeii, a sleepy town flanking the sprawling ruins of the city that was buried in the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

Benedict visited Pompeii a decade ago, when he was the Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, with his brother.

An ailing John Paul II visited the shrine, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the rosary, in 2003, in one of his last trips before his death two years later.


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