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Pope Francis to conduct open-air Mass near U.S.-Mexico border in February, Vatican says

Pope Francis leaves after a meeting with a group of Cuban youth in Havana, Cuba, Sunday Sept. 20, 2015.

Pope Francis leaves after a meeting with a group of Cuban youth in Havana, Cuba, Sunday Sept. 20, 2015.

Pope Francis' upcoming trip to Mexico will include a prayer before the Virgin of Guadalupe, a visit to the nation's poor south and an open-air Mass near the U.S. border that is expected to attract the faithful from both countries.

The Vatican on Saturday detailed the itinerary following a papal Mass to mark the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint, in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

The five-day visit begins Feb. 12 in Mexico City, where he will say Mass at the Basilica of Guadalupe the next day. The first Latin American pope, Francis has called the Virgin of Guadalupe "the mother of the Americas."

In Mexico City, the pope will be formally welcomed by President Enrique Pena Nieto and meet with the nation's bishops in the city's cathedral. He will say Mass in Ecatapec, a vast working-class suburb of Mexico City that is home to 1.6 million people, on Feb. 14.

The pope will continue his Mexican trip in the southern border state of Chiapas, one of the nation's poorest areas and home to a large indigenous population, followed by Morelia, the capital of Michoacan state and a hotspot of Mexico's drug conflict.

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Francis' last stop will be in Ciudad Juarez, on the northern border across from El Paso, Texas, where he will visit the Cereso prison, meeting and praying with some inmates, followed by a meeting with business leaders and workers.

He will wrap up his visit with an open-air Mass in a large field with a capacity for 220,000 people near Benito Juarez Stadium. El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz said tickets would be provided to parishes on both sides of the border.

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