Pope presides over Mass at the Madison Square Garden

Francis is getting a rock-star treatment.

The Pope is assisted by about 200 deacons and 150 volunteers in giving Holy Communion. (Photo: AP)
English 25/09/2015 18:03 AP New York Actualizada 18:04

Pope Francis is celebrating Mass for 18,000 people at the Madison Square Garden arena, the final event on his New York City trip.

Before the service began, Francis made a lap of the arena floor in a golf cart, getting huge cheers.

He waved, smiled and accepted some flowers and other gifts. On a second lap that took him down the middle aisle, he stopped at one point, apparently to bless some children.

About 200 deacons and 150 volunteers are assisting him in giving Holy Communion.

By his preference, Francis is sitting in a simple oak chair built by day laborers working for a charity, rather than by expert craftsmen.

Heavy security around Pope Francis' visit to the United States meant those attending his Mass at Madison Square Garden had to get there hours in advance for screening. But they got a start-studded show while they waited.

The Archdiocese of New York put together a faith-focused concert for attendees before the Mass started.

Jennifer Hudson, the Academy Award and Grammy Award-winning singer, sang "Hallelujah" and drew roars from the crowd.

Gloria Estafan sang "Mas Allá," Harry Connick Jr. sang "How Great Thou Art?" and several Broadway actors performed in the roughly 20,000-seat arena. Martin Sheen hosted.

The show also featured a video appearance by Stephen Colbert, who welcomed to the arena, as he put it, "Catholics and the non-Catholics who arrived really early for a Knicks game."

Pope Francis is captivating a New York venue that more commonly showcases rock stars and pro athletes than religious leaders.

The Madison Square Garden It can hold around 18,000 people.

This is the Pope's last event in New York City. He leaves for Philadelphia on Saturday morning.

Some 80,000 people received tickets to the processional. It was added to the pope's packed schedule to allow more people to see him, and vice versa.