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Kenya declares public holiday for papal Mass ahead of Pope Francis visit

Pope Francis waves to school children as he walks towards them after arriving at the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, after an address to a joint meeting of Congress. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen).
Pope Francis waves to school children as he walks towards them after arriving at the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, after an address to a joint meeting of Congress. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen).

NAIROBI, Kenya – The Kenyan government has declared a national public holiday the day Pope Francis will celebrate Mass here, drawing an expected 1.4 million people.

The papal Mass is due to take place Thursday on the grounds of the University of Nairobi. Large crowds are expected to flock to the event.

The national holiday of prayer and reflection was announced Tuesday by Manoah Esipisu, a spokesman for President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Concerns have been raised that businesses in the city centre will be unable to operate due to the overflowing crowds and road closings.

This is the first trip to Africa for Francis. The pope is visiting Kenya, Uganda and Central African republic and he is expected to deliver messages touching on sectarian violence, the environment and poverty.

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