Jan 172015

Pope Francis returned to the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila at 2:55 p.m. Saturday, after his visit to Leyte was cut short by Tropical Storm Amang (Mekkhala).

The Pope, who was aboard a black Volkswagen minivan, was greeted by cheering Filipinos waiting at the corner of Taft and Quirino Avenues.

Amid the drizzle, people — young, old, and families leaving near the Nunciature — began lining up the streets as early as 12 noon or more than seven hours before Pope Francis’ expected time of arrival back in Manila from Leyte.

Located at the corner of Quirino Avenue and Taft Avenue in Malate, Manila, the Nunciature serves as the embassy of the Vatican State in the Philippines. It also serves as the official residence of the Apostolic Nuncio or the Holy See’s ambassador to the country, Most Reverend Giuseppe Pinto.

The late Pope Paul VI and the late Pope John Paul II, who was recently proclaimed as St. John Paul II, also stayed at the same Nunciature during their respective visits in the Philippines.

For the Pope’s privacy and security, media and even government officials were not allowed inside the Nunciature. The roads surrounding it were also closed to vehicles as early as Wednesday evening.

Earlier on Saturday, Pope Francis led a Mass in Tacloban City followed by a motorcade going to Palo town where had an intimate lunch with some survivors of Yolanda, the world’s strongest typhoon recorded to make a landfall.  He also blessed the mass grave of the Yolanda victims as well as the newly-constructed multi-purpose center for the poor which was named after him.

On Sunday morning, Pope Francis is scheduled to leave the Nunciature for a “dialogue with the youth” at the University of Santo Tomas to be followed by a mass at the Quirino Grandstand in the afternoon.

The Pope was initially scheduled to return to Metro Manila at about 5 p.m. but his visit to Leyte was cut short due to bad weather from Amang.

Before returning to the Nunciature, he posed for a selfie with well-wishers at Villamor Air Base. —with Joel Locsin/KBK, GMA News

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