LIFESTYLE

Pope Francis' top 10 most memorable moments during his visit to the U.S.

Pope Francis is finishing his final day in the United States with a Mass in Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. His 6-day, three-city trip on U.S. soil was marked by several memorable moments.

Here is a look at some of the highlights of Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States.

1. Little Sofi Cruz, 5, captures the heart of the pontiff.

The 5-year-old girl was among the crowd on a parade route for Pope Francis following his address at the White House on Wednesday. Cruz, who travelled to Washington with Los Angeles-based advocacy group Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, broke through the security barrier to reach the pope. While security tried to keep the little girl away, Francis actually asked them to bring her to him and she was able to give him a handwritten note and a T-shirt. The note detailed fears that her parents, undocumented immigrants from Mexico, could be deported.

"I believe I have the right to live with my parents," Sophie told the AP after her moment with the pope. "I have the right to be happy. My dad works very hard in a factory galvanizing pieces of metal. All immigrants just like my dad feed this country. They deserve to live with dignity. They deserve to live with respect."

Her mad dash to the pope, which appeared to be spontaneous, actually was a scripted moment that took a year to plan.

2. Francis gives shout out to immigrants during first speech in the U.S.

Speaking at the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday, Pope Francis delved into the controversial topic of immigration when he drew a personal connection between his family history and the United States.

“As a child of immigrants,” he said, speaking slowly but in good English, “I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.”

Immigration, along with injustice, religious liberty, ensuring the welfare of the poor and the disadvantaged and the environment were continuous themes throughout Francis’ trip.

3. Becomes first Pope to address a joint session of Congress

In a historic speech on Thursday, Francis became the first Pope to address both chambers of Congress. In his speech, he carefully treaded the controversial issue of immigration – urging leaders to “open their hearts” to immigrants.

He made a plea to Americans not to turn their back on our “neighbors,” but instead “constantly relate to each other.”

“In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom,” said Francis, who spoke passionately but slowly and haltingly.  “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.”

The wide-ranging speech also addressed issues from global security and the Syrian refugee crisis to the mistreatment of Native Americans and the importance of family values.

4. Pope takes some selfies in most person-to-person visit at East Harlem school

A line of children shrieked and chanted "Holy Father, we love you!" as Francis made his way along a barricade outside Our Lady of Angels School on Friday afternoon.

A beaming pope blessed them, shaking hands and posing for a few selfies. Some children embraced him, but a security guard intervened when one girl gave him a big hug. Inside, about 150 immigrants and refugees filled the gym to greet him. He then went into a classroom, circulating around tables where grade-schoolers described projects they were working on.

During his visit, Francis also recalled the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous words, telling the children that King's dream of equal opportunity was a hope that children like them could get an education.

The pope says "it is beautiful to have dreams" and to be able to fight for them.

5. Argentina family who drove 13,000 miles to Philadelphia get blessing

Francis met Sunday with a family who made a 13,000-mile trip over 194 days from Argentina to Philadelphia in an old Volkswagen van.

Argentinians Catire Walker and Noel Zemborain and their four children, Cala, 12; Dimas, 8; Mia, 5; and Carmin, 3, piled into the van in March and made their way north. Along the way they made 12 border crossings and stayed with dozens of host families, did lots of sightseeing and documented the trip online.

"I think this kind of meeting shares the same spirit we want our journey to have — to meet other families, to know other families," Zemborain told The Associated Press last week. "The (World Meeting) slogan is 'The Family Fully Alive,' and that's how we feel as a family."

6. Francis canonizes the first saint on U.S. soil

In the first canonization on U.S. soil, Francis elevated to sainthood Junipero Serra, an 18th-century missionary who brought Catholicism to the American West Coast, during a Spanish-language Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Serra was a Franciscan friar who marched north from Baja California with conquistadors from his native Spain, establishing nine of the 21 missions in what is now California.

Francis’ decision to canonize Serra was polarizing with many Native Americans in California who said he enslaved converts and contributed to the spread of disease that wiped out indigenous populations. However, many Latinos in the U.S. view the canonization of a Spanish-speaking missionary as a badly needed acknowledgment of the Hispanic history of the American church.

7. Francis asks for people to pray for him

Pope Francis wrapped up his whirlwind trip to New York City with a Mass for 18,000 people at Madison Square Garden.

He concluded the service with the customary "go in peace and serve the Lord" and added, "Please, I ask you, don't forget to pray for me."

He also emphasized a point he has made throughout his U.S. trip: the need to welcome foreigners and marginalized people. In his homily he also cited "children who go without schooling, those deprived without medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly."

He says God "frees us from anonymity, from a life of emptiness and selfishness." He also says, "God is living in our cities," and so is the church.

8. Francis blesses 10-year-old boy in a wheelchair on the tarmac in Philadelphia

Francis was set to kick off the Philadelphia-leg of his trip, when he spotted a young boy in a wheelchair on the tarmac at the airport in Philadelphia.

He quickly asked the driver to stop his black Fiat and walked up to the boy, giving him a blessing and a kiss on the forehead.

9. Vatican flag flies at the United Nations for the first time

The pope spoke to world leaders gathered for a U.N. General Assembly summit on Friday, where he championed the causes of protecting the environment, helping less affluent nations, aiding vulnerable people and avoiding war.

“I pay homage to all those men and women whose loyalty and self-sacrifice have benefited humanity as a whole in these past 70 years,” the pope said. “In particular, I would recall today those who gave their lives for peace and reconciliation among people…the many United Nations officials at every level who have been killed in the course of humanitarian missions, and missions of peace and reconciliation.”

It was the fifth time a pope has been to the United Nations, but only the first time the Vatican flag has been raised.

10. Francis urges immigrants to be “responsible citizens”

In an emotional Spanish-language speech in front of 40,000 people gathered outside of Independence Hall, Francis delivered a simple but clear message of hope to the U.S. Latino community.

"Do not be discouraged by whatever challenges and hardships you face," Francis said in Spanish. "I ask you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to your new nation."

He added: "You are also called to be responsible citizens and contribute fruitfully to the lives of the community in which you live... By contributing your gifts, you will not only find your place here, you will help to renew society from within."

Many of those gathered at Independence Hall were Latin American or immigrants.

Click here for full coverage of Pope Francis' historic visit to the U.S.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. All photos by the AP.

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