Pilgrims were lined up to see Pope Francis before 5 this morning. The small group waited in a fenced off area at Franklin Square, just off the Ben Franklin Bridge, to be among the first allowed through a security tent erected across Race Street.
Francis is due to depart New York about 8:40 a.m. this morning for Philadelphia. He's set to speak at Independence Mall at 4:45 p.m. And that's what the group was lining up to see.
The city is in full lockdown. Concrete security barriers and portable metal fencing the size of bike racks make it tricky to get around Center City. Indeed, pilgrims unfamiliar with the city were having a tricky time getting around in the pre-dawn darkness. A group of Chinese speakers were clustered around a map just off Race trying to find the security entrance.
The pope's first stop in Philadelphia will be the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul, where he will celebrate Mass. Nearly four hours before his arrival, visitors were already standing outside the church.
Later in the day, the pontiff will attend the Festival of Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
And more pilgrims are coming: Trains from the suburbs started carrying the first passengers for papal events by 5:30 a.m.
Here's the pope's itinerary for today:
8:40 a.m.: Depart for Philly from JFK Airport
9:30 a.m.: Arrival at Atlantic Aviation at Philadelphia International Airport
10:30 a.m.: Mass at Sts. Peter and Paul
4:45 p.m.: Visit to Independence Mall
6 p.m.: Attend festival of Families on Ben Franklin Parkway
— Archdiocese Phila. (@ArchPhilly) September 26, 2015
— PHLAirport (@PHLAirport) September 26, 2015