Pope Francis has arrived in the Philippines for a five-day visit to the nation’s 80 million Roman Catholics.
He was met at Manila airport by President Benigno Aquino while church bells tolled nationwide to welcome him.
The highlight of the Pope’s visit will be a huge open air Mass in Manila on Sunday and a visit to Tacloban to meet survivors of a devastating typhoon in November 2013.
Security will be tight after failed attempts to kill two previous Popes.
Tens of thousands of soldiers and police have been deployed.
Pope Francis, the fourth pontiff to visit the Philippines, travelled from Sri Lanka, where he called for unity in the conflict-hit nation and canonised its first saint.
Eighty percent of the Philippines’ 100 million people are Catholic. Huge crowds are expected at each stage of the visit – hundreds of thousands of people are lining his route from the airport.
A three-day public holiday has been declared in the capital to clear the traffic.
“Every step he makes, every car ride he takes, every moment he stays with us is precious for us,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. “Seeing him pass by is a grace.”