The heat of the sun rained over Quito last week. Temperatures–which rarely climb above 70° F–crept warmer and warmer in this city that hugs the equator. Yet despite this unusual heat, people turned out in droves for the arrival of Pope Francis, who landed in Quito as part of a week-long tour of Ecuador, Paraguay, and Bolivia.
Weather aside, the Pope received a warm welcome from President Rafael Correa and hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorians who waved posters and cheered for the arrival of their pontiff; in fact, more than half a million attended his sermon where he praised the “noble Ecuadorian people” and spoke on the strength of the family.
Pope Francis has also recently spoken out about preserving the environment, and in Ecuador, that message carries tremendous importance: Ecuador has countless natural treasures worth saving and sharing with the world. From the mountains and volcanoes of the Andes to the crystal-blue waters of the Galapagos Islands to pristine forests, Ecuador is one of the most beautiful environments on the planet. Ecuador is also home to a host of unique species of flora and fauna–Andean condors, Galapagos giant tortoises, caracaras, white-tailed deer, and many more.
The Pope explained that he wanted to visit Ecuador, Paraguay, and Bolivia on his trip because these nations are home to millions upon millions of the world’s Catholics. In fact, Ecuador’s population alone is 77% Catholic, and many of the nation’s landmarks reflect this religious heritage. Ecuador is dotted with symbols of Catholicism, including La Iglesia de Balbanera–the first church built in Ecuador, dating back to 1524–as well as countless cathedrals, ruins, and other sites. Many of these churches actually contributed to certain Ecuadorian cities, like Quito and Cuenca, earning designations as World Heritage Sites.
After a few days, Pope Francis left Ecuador to continue on the next leg of his journey. But, for the few days the Pope spent in the country, the people of Ecuador joined him and rejoiced in the strength of their families, the natural beauty of their country, and their shared heritage as Catholics as they march into the future.
To be like Pope Francis and enjoy your own trip in Ecuador, click here!