RIO DE JANEIRO – It was perfect beach weather Saturday on Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, and the white sands were jammed full of people.
But instead of beach balls and bikinis, the nearly 2 million people who packed the beach had brought Bibles, rosaries and crucifixes.
They were pilgrims from all over the world who had come to greet Pope Francis on the next-to-last day of his weeklong visit to Rio and neighboring Sao Paulo state.
Francis had spent Saturday morning in Rio's ornate Municipal Theater, where he urged city leaders to remember society's least fortunate. While onstage, he also met with members of Brazil's indigenous tribes, who gave him a feathered headdress.
Throughout his trip, Francis has embraced the unexpected, wading into crowds and urging Catholics to shake up the church. His flock appeared to take that message to heart Saturday, all along the giant curve of Copacabana.