Millions attend close of World Youth Day

One of the biggest Roman Catholic youth festivals came to a close on Sunday with a Mass on Copacabana beach led by Pope Francis.

The beach at the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro was packed with around three million people for the close of World Youth Day. 

Many of the youths spent the night on the beach in anticipation of the Mass following an all-night vigil, which was also attended by Pope Francis.

His words of encouragement to the crowds were in keeping with the emphasis he placed on active faith during his other appearances at World Youth Day in the last week.

He told them: "Go and don't be afraid of serving. Jesus did not gather the Apostles so they lived in isolation. He called them so they formed a group, a community."

During the vigil on Saturday night, he spoke encouragingly of the thousands of young people who have protested on the streets of Brazil for change in recent weeks, telling the pilgrims not to be apathetic.

"The young people in the streets are the ones who want to be actors of change. Please don't let others be actors of change," he said.

"Keep overcoming apathy and offering a Christian response to the social and political concerns taking place in different parts of the world."

Pope Francis also announced that the next World Youth Day would take place in Krakow, in Poland, in 2016.