Steady rain failed to dampen the spirits of thousands of the faithful as they trooped into Cofton Park in Birmingham today ahead of the start of the beatification Mass for Cardinal Newman.
Pilgrims armed with folding chairs and dressed in waterproofs trudged past souvenir scarf and flag sellers to get into the park in advance of the Mass.
Sherry Franklin, 50, from Long Ashton, Bristol, a learning support worker, had travelled to the Mass with her sister Irene Cox, 52, a chronic diabetic.
Mrs Franklin said: “To be in the presence of the Pope and so many other Catholics is a dream come true.
“I have a very ill sister and it has been her greatest wish to one day see the Pope in person.
“To be with her and see her dream fulfilled is just so wonderful.”
David Paton, 44, a professor of economics at Nottingham University, was leading a group from the Nottingham parishes of Holy Spirit, St Anne’s and Our Lady’s Cotgrave near Nottingham.
He said: “It is a very big event for Catholics that the Pope has come to our country and we did not want to miss a chance of seeing him.
“I saw the last Pope in Cardiff when I was much younger. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.”
He said the Pope’s visit had been “absolutely wonderful”.
“I think he is obviously a shy and a quiet man but he has got a real way of reaching out to people, not just Catholics,” he said.
“People have a right to put their point of view, we have a free country and people can protest, but what I get upset about is when people say things that are not true about the Pope.”