2013-07-28 - Pope Francis on Sunday celebrated the concluding World Youth Day Mass in Rio de Janeiro as the many events and inititives that filled the articulated World Youth Day programme are come to end.

Millions of pilgrims are preparing to leave the city and - as Pope Francis urged them to do - go home to share their experience of faith. Thousands of journalists, reporters, photographers and other media operators are also packing up after a busy week. Amongst them, Vatican Radio's Sean Patrick Lovett, who has sent us his daily impressions of the Pope and the people during this intense experience of life and of faith.

After all these years of Pope-watching, who would have thought that staring at a papal motorcade could be so irresistible? It’s not just about a man dressed in white waving from an open jeep to the festive multitudes, it’s that you never know what he’s going to do next – and he might just do it the moment you look away.

So you begin by counting babies – then give up when you get confused about whether or not infants and toddlers qualify. You wipe away a furtive tear whenever he stops to encourage anyone in a wheelchair or to embrace a child with any kind of disability. You are filled with irrational terror every time he drinks a “mate” offered by an anonymous onlooker (what if it’s poisoned?!). You stare in admiration at the speed and dexterity of papal catching skills – then realise that the number and nature of items being flung in his direction gives a whole new meaning to the term “unidentified flying objects”. You are amazed at the number of zealous individuals who launch themselves intrepidly in the direction of the papal vehicle without a thought for their own safety (or anyone else’s) – and you continue to be impressed by how few of them end up permanently injured in the process.

You wonder at the athletic prowess of the papal security detail, trotting sportingly alongside the moving pope-mobile – ever vigilant, ever ready to intervene with controlled force in case a fan turns out to be a fanatic. You notice the growing pile of paraphernalia on the back seat of the papal jeep and can’t help wondering what on earth he’s going to do with it all – he has to be the man with the world’s greatest collection of flags, football caps, and jerseys with his name on them.You find yourself thinking back to a time (not that long ago) when a Pope seen in public was nothing more than a static speck in the distance – an aged, enigmatic figure carried aloft on a gilded throne, unapproachable, untouchable, unknowable.

And you reflect on how times change, styles change, popes change, we change. And you realise how much better it is…the way it is.