Worshippers rejoice at Pope Francis's visit to Bahrain cathedral

Pontiff thanks people of Bahrain for caring for the country's Catholic community in address at Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral

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Worshippers have shared their joy at being part of a historic papal visit to the Arabian Gulf's largest Roman Catholic church.

Pope Francis thanked the people of Bahrain for their care for the country's Catholic contingent during an address at Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral on Friday evening.

He took part in a prayer for peace to round off the second day of his milestone tour of the kingdom.

The pontiff entered the vast place of worship to rapturous applause from a congregation thrilled to see the revered head of their flock in person.

After the Pope left the cathedral, those in attendance told of the thrill of hearing him deliver his message.

Fatima Desouza was delighted to see the Pope in person. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

"We were so excited and thrilled to see him deliver this holy Mass," said Fatima Desouza, 52, an executive secretary from India.

Vinel Marripudi, 15, a pupil who also comes from India, spoke about the importance of the occasion, saying "today was a wonderful experience, we witnessed history in this moment."

Roland Gabriel, from Lebanon, was enthralled by the chance to see the pontiff in person.

"The Pope's visit to Bahrain is something unique. I'm sure everyone enjoyed it just as much as we did."

The 36-year-old, who works as a regional human resources manager in Bahrain, hailed the leader of the world's Catholics as "a very humble influential figure".

"And that's what we love the most about him," he said.

Amani Haddad, from Jordan, was cherishing the Pope's momentous visit.

"I hope this is a great visit for Bahrain and for us. I am making sure to attend every event where the Pope will be while in Bahrain."

Father Nedumpurath Johnson, from the Salmiya Parish, travelled from Kuwait to attend the service.

"It was wonderful. The holy father spoke about unity and diversity. He tells us about how to live together as one family."

Philip Ian Pamintuan, 39, was part of the choir that welcomed the Pope into the cathedral. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Phillip Ian Pamintuan was a member of the choir that sang in the cathedral as the Pope entered, and as he made his exit.

He says he was overwhelmed and blessed to be a part of the choir, adding that "it was a great gathering of many cultures and people."

The Pope will deliver a public Mass before a crowd of more than 20,000 at the Bahrain National Stadium on Saturday.

Pope's Bahrain visit — in pictures

Updated: November 09, 2022, 9:33 AM