Pope Francis has arrived in Philadelphia as thousands eagerly await a chance to get a glimpse of him at several events throughout the day and evening.

Pope Francis kisses a man in a wheelchair upon his arrival in Philadelphia (Gary Gellman)

Among those greeting Francis at the airport was Richard Bowes, a former Philadelphia police officer wounded in the line of duty seven years ago. Francis also got out of his black Fiat to bless a man in a wheelchair on the tarmac, kissing him on the forehead.

The band from Bishop Shanahan High School of Downington, PA played the theme song from "Rocky" to greet the Pontiff.

He then made his way to the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia for a Mass that is private but was surrounded by an eager crowd that chanted "Francisco Francisco Francisco" as he walked with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (D).

Hanging prayers at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul (Leanne Vuksanic)

NJ Transit, Amtrak, SEPTA and PATCO trains and light rail have been running smoothly on Saturday morning. Spokesman Ken Miller said Saturday morning ridership is light on the Atlantic City and RiverLINE and they anticipate that to continue. NJ Transit buses so far are not being impacted by papal traffic.

"We urge anyone using the RiverLINE light rail to be on board by 3 p.m. in order to be in Philadelphia on time" for the Pope's appearances at Independence Mall and the  Festival of Families. "There may not be access into Philadelphia after 4 p.m."




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  • Keep an eye on our special Pope visit coverage page, which we’ll be updating all week with live video, traffic updates, reactions from local leaders and much more.
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And you can contribute, too! Be extra eyes and ears in the crowd. Is the traffic overwhelming? Is the walk from Camden to Philadelphia going as planned? Let us know by:

Want to share lots and lots of news? Email us at newsjerz@nj1015.com before Friday with the words “pope visit” in the subject to make arrangements to get in touch throughout the visit.

Read More: A surprisingly easy ride into New York during the Pope’s visit | http://nj1015.com/a-surprisingly-easy-ride-into-new-york-during-the-popes-visit/?trackback=tsmclip

The Associated Press contributed to this report