The pre-Mass atmosphere was festive on the Benjamin Franklin Parkwy, even amid blocks-long security lines and among those who had been waiting for upwards of an hour.
A parish group from Houston, Texas played guitar, sang psalms and prepared for what would likely be another hour on their feet. Children rested on parents' shoulders. Dozens waved and cheered when a priest hoisted himself above the crowd to take a picture.
"Where is Joshua?" another priest called, scanning the crowd for a parishioner. Several hands rose. "No, the other Joshua!" he yelled, to laughter.
And the line moved, slowly, toward the Parkway.
"My feet hurt but my spirits are full," said Rogelio Badillo, in town from Houston. He looked at the clouds overhead. "And if it rains, it will be holy water."
Badillo and his wife, Janie, have 11 children. They brought five to the papal visit. It was another trip to see the pope, in Spain, in 2006, that inspired them to have a bigger family, he said.
"Our lives changed forever," he said. Now, in Philadelphia, he waited to see another pope, to make another treasured memory.
"This is a picture that stays in your mind and it never goes away," he said.
A photo posted by Louise Jones (@lou1sej0nes) on Sep 27, 2015 at 11:12am PDT