Saturday, 2:15 PM
NEW YORK -- Rusted metal pipes. Backhoes. Cranes. Construction trailers. Buckets of concrete. Very little has been done to dress up ground zero in preparation for Pope Benedict XVI, who is due to arrive here at 9:30 a.m. for a stark and somber prayer service.
A thick, cool fog is hanging over lower Manhattan, shrouding the tops of the skyscrapers. Ground zero is a construction site -- an approximately four-story-deep pit of jumbled rock and concrete, dark, grey puddles, and backhoes. To one side, a small area has been marked with orange cones. A tarp there is covering, for now, a pool of water and raw earth where the pope plans to kneel and pray. He then plans to light a candle and sprinkle holy water on the site.
A group of 20 -- survivors and relatives of people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as well as police and firefighters who responded to the attacks -- will then light candles from the pope’s candle and receive his blessing. No remarks are planned and the staging will bring the pope face to face with the rawness of the tragedy.
This event is the first of two major public events today, the sixth and final day of Pope Benedict XVI's trip the United States. The pope will also say Mass for nearly 60,000 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Benedict then departs for Rome tonight after a departure ceremony at John F. Kennedy International airport.
The Globe has four journalists covering the pope today. Michael Levenson is at ground zero, Michael Paulson is at Yankee Stadium. And we've embedded reporter Tania deLuzuriaga and photographer Dominic Chavez on a bus with some of the 3,000 pilgrims from Boston heading to the stadium Mass; Tania is going to attempt our first Blackberry blogging, since it sounds like she's going to be barred from carrying a laptop into the stadium. This item was written by Levenson. We'll be blogging all day right here.
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