Thousands witness history as Pope Francis travels in America - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Thousands witness history as Pope Francis travels in America

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Pope Francis (AP Images) Pope Francis (AP Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WFSB) -

Connecticut Catholics and clergy are in Washington D.C. hoping to be eyewitnesses to history.

Pope Francis arrived in the nation’s capital on Tuesday, and while he didn’t have a scheduled event Tuesday night, hundreds of people have tickets to the White House reception as well as the mass outside the basilica.

On Tuesday, security was tight and preparations were underway at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for a mass of canonization Wednesday of Blessed Junipero Serra.

Pope Francis will celebrate with cardinals and bishops as 35,000 guests participate, including the Bakers of Plantsville who have designed and created all 300 vestments.

"We know the Holy Father is the Pope of the people, so we had to have a simple design. Had to be a simpler design than Pope Benedict. I brought it to Rome got the approval of Monsignor Marrinni,” said Brian Baker, of Baker Liturgical.

T-shirts recognizing the historic visit were hot items in the basilica’s store.

"I think he means hope like everyone else. He has a concept of a universal conscience,” said Mary McGray from Windsor.

Monsignor Robert Weiss of St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, who helped heal families spiritually and emotionally, following the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook is in Washington D.C., participating in the family conference.

"An absolute wonderful experience I’m so honored to be a part of the joint session. This Holy Father is changing our lives so quickly and opening ourselves to the realities of life,” Weiss said.

Pope Francis spent a few days in Cuba before heading to the United States.

Cardinal Donald Weurl, the Archbishop of Washington D.C., is the host of this leg of the Pope’s U.S. tour.

He and his staff, along with an army of security and technicians, have been planning the visit for months.

"The excitement here is palpable. And one of the reasons I believe is the great love for this Pope. It’s not just from the Catholic community. There is an excitement, a love, an appreciation that permeates the whole city here,” Weurl said.

The Holy Father has a busy schedule on Wednesday with a meeting at the White House with President Obama, followed by a meeting of all U.S. bishops, and the canonization mass in the National Shrine at 4 p.m.

Follow along with Eyewitness News to see more from the Pope's visit here.

Follow WFSB Anchor and Reporter Kevin Hogan, who is following the Pope's tour, on Facebook and Twitter.

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