Residents hope the Pope's visit may bring extra security to Varginha

Pope Francis has visited a poor neighbourhood of the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

The Pope addressed residents of the community of Varginha in the latest stop of his visit to Brazil, the first foreign trip of his papacy.

He blessed the new altar at a tiny church and hugged and kissed locals who crowded around him, reports the BBC.

On the fourth day of his visit to Brazil, he will also greet the faithful at the World Youth Day in Copacabana.

Security was tight in Varginha, which is part of the larger Manguinhos favela, one of the many hillside shanty towns which surround Rio.

Helicopters and sharpshooters were on patrol as Pope Francis visited the area while school children waved flags and held up balloons.

The excitement was palpable as he arrived and resident Antonieta de Souza Costa told Reuters news agency she thought the visit would “bring people back to the Catholic church”.

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