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After almost 13 hours in flight, traveling 9,500 km on board an Airbus A330 of Alitalia airlines, Pope Francis arrived this afternoon at 16:16 local time, 22:16 Rome time, at the International Airport of Tocumen in Panama, where the faithful were waiting for him. All 2,500 planned spaces were occupied.
Minutes later, at 16:34, Pope Francis descended and was received by the President of the Republic of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela and his wife, Mrs. Lorena Castillo. As a sign of welcome, two Panamanian children, dressed in traditional costumes, offered flowers to Pope Francis, while a group of young people gave color to the ceremony with traditional folk dances.
In a simple ceremony, in which there were no speeches, the National Band played the Pontifical March and the national anthem of the Republic of Panama; members of both delegations were presented and the official photo was taken.
Among the ecclesiastical authorities present were Card. Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Vatican, the Apostolic Nuncio in Panama, Msgr. Mirosław Adamczyk, Card. José Luis Lacunza, the Archbishop of Panama, Msgr. José Domingo Ulloa, among others.
Pope Francis set aside protocol and took time to greet many of the attendees and bless some children.
At the end of the ceremony, the Pope, together with Msgr. Ulloa, climbed into a closed car to travel to a specific place where the Popemobile was waiting for him, which took him to the Apostolic Nunciature.