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Explosive found near Brazil shrine before Pope visit

July 21, 2013: Policemen from the Pacifying Police Unit, or 'UPP', patrol in the Varginha area of the Manguinhos slum complex ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.AP

An explosive device was found Sunday near a religious shrine in Brazil that Pope Francis plans to visit later this week, a Vatican official said Monday.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi confirmed that the homemade explosive device was found by Brazilian authorities in a public toilet near the basilica at Aparecida, a Marian shrine that Francis will visit Wednesday. 

Vatican security was informed of the device but didn't think it was aimed at the pope, Lombardi said.

"There are no concerns for security. The concerns are that the enthusiasm is so great that it's difficult to respond to so much enthusiasm for the pope. But there is no fear and no concern," he told reporters.

Francis' weeklong schedule underscores his commitment to make his pontificate focus on the poor. He will walk through one of Rio's shantytowns, or favelas, and meet with juvenile offenders, an extension of his call for a more missionary church that goes to the peripheries to preach.

He will also pray at Aparecida, an indication of his strong Marian devotion that is shared in much of Latin America. And, in a rather incongruous matchup, he will preside over a procession re-enacting Christ's crucifixion on the beach at Copacabana, ground zero of Rio's Sin City.

The mob scene witnessed as Francis arrived in Rio de Janeiro Monday took place because his driver made a wrong turn, according to church and Brazilian authorities.

Rio Transportation Secretary Carlos Osorio said the Fiat that Francis was riding in from the airport to the city center inadvertently turned into the wrong side of a 12-lane thoroughfare, known as Avenida Presidente Vargas.

Instead of taking the left lanes that were free of traffic, the car turned into the right lanes cluttered with buses and taxis, forcing the pontiff's car to stop, he said.

Thousands of faithful who lined the streets then rushed the car, reaching into the pope's open window, many taking photos of him with their phones.

Lombardi, acknowledged that the pope's motorcade took a wrong turn but he said the pope was never concerned for his safety, even if his secretary who was sitting with him in the car was.

"His secretary was afraid, but the pope was happy, with his hand out the window waving," Lombardi said.

He minimized the concerns, saying the mob scenes were merely an expression of the "enthusiasm" of the crowds.

The wrong turn taken by the pope's driver and ensuing mob scene didn't explain, however, the clear lack of security later as Francis rode in his open-air vehicle that was also surrounded by screaming faithful.

Lombardi acknowledge there might have been some "errors" that need correcting.

"This is something new, maybe also a lesson for the coming days," he said.

Oswaldo Chaves, a 40-year-old Catholic who saw the papal motorcade, dismissed concerns about the pontiff's security and how the scene might be viewed outside Brazil.

"That was only the happiness of the people, the affection of the people for the pope," he said. "Any criticism would be wickedness against Brazilians."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.