Pope Francis greets adoring crowds in New York City

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Tens of thousands of spectators came out on Friday to see Pope Francis on his tour through Central Park.
  • Fans of Pope Francis wait for him to drive through Central Park on Friday.
  • Scene at Columbus Circle before the Pope drove past tens of thousands of spectators.
  • Spectators eager to see Pope Francis ride through Central Park walk through Columbus Circle on Friday.
  • Tens of thousands of people came out on Friday to see Pope Francis drive through Central Park.
  • A doorman helps residents through caution tape preventing bystanders from crowding the building’s entrance on 7th Avenue and Central Park South, where the Pope exited the park on Friday.
  • People cheer on the steps of the Plaza Hotel as Pope Francis passes by with his motorcade on Friday.
  • Pope Francis waves to adoring fans as he rides through Central Park on Friday.
  • Overwhelmed by emotion, people look at their photos of Pope Francis, after he passed by in a Fiat in Central Park, on Fifth Avenue near the Plaza Hotel.
  • A photographer crosses Columbus Circle, near Central Park, which Pope Francis drove through on Friday.
  • People look at newspapers featuring Pope Francis in midtown Manhattan on Friday. 
  • A man waits for the arrival of Pope Francis in lower Manhattan, where the Pope led a prayer service Friday morning.
  • A man in Zucotti Park, near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, where Pope Francis delivered a prayer service.
  • Street scene, lower Manhattan, on the morning that Pope Francis spoke at a prayer service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on Friday.
  • Thousands lined Fifth Avenue on Thursday, hoping to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis who led evening prayers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
  • People eagerly awaited the arrival of Pope Francis in lower Manhattan, near Ground Zero, where the Pope led a prayer service.
  • Onlookers gaze up at the Freedom Tower as thousands wait for Pope Francis at Ground Zero. The Pope spoke in a prayer service on Friday morning at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
  • Pope Francis arrived in New York City Thursday afternoon, greeting a crowd of thousands along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue before leading evening prayers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
  • Police officers patrol the area surrounding Ground Zero, where Pope Francis delivered a prayer service on Friday morning.
  • A boy gets a lift to see above the thousands of New Yorkers who came out Thursday night to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis.
  • Thousands line Fifth Avenue in anticipation of the arrival of Pope Francis, who is visiting New York City - and the United States - for the first time.
  • People eagerly await the arrival of Pope Francis across Fifth Avenue from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where the Pope led evening prayer Thursday evening.
  • A man poses for a portrait on Thursday, Sept. 24, near St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Pope Francis led evening prayer on Thursday. 
  • New Yorkers eagerly await the arrival of Pope Francis, who is scheduled to lead an evening prayer, Sept. 24, 2015, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.
  • Thousands of people gather along Fifth Avenue, Sept. 24, 2015, waiting to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis.
  • Police officers direct people who have come to see Pope Francis on his first visit to New York City.
  • Fans of Pope Francis flock to Fifth Avenue to await his arrival at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
  • A barricade near St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Pope Francis led evening prayers on Thursday during his visit to NYC.
  • A woman waits for Pope Francis to arrive in New York City on Sept. 24, 2015. The pontiff had just wrapped up a visit to Washington, DC.
  • A man poses for a portrait in front of Rockefeller Center, before the Pope’s arrival at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Thursday.
  • A member of the mayor’s office shows his credential prior to the arrival of Pope Francis in New York City, Sept. 24, 2015.
  • Two nuns walk along Fifth Avenue in advance of the arrival of Pope Francis, who is scheduled to offer an evening prayer at St. Patrick’s Cathedral tonight. 
  • Tens of thousands of spectators came out on Friday to see Pope Francis on his tour through Central Park.
  • Pope Francis arrived in New York City Thursday afternoon, greeting a crowd of thousands along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue before leading evening prayers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

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Pope Francis arrived in New York City Thursday afternoon, greeting a crowd of thousands along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue before leading evening prayers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Francis opened his remarks during the Thursday vespers service greeting his “Muslim brothers and sisters” and expressing sorrow “in the face of tragedy” suffered near Mecca, where a horrific stampede left 700 people dead. “At this moment I assure you of our prayers,” he said, beginning his homily in Spanish.

Francis also spoke of the spirit of gratitude, generosity and warned of the dangers of materialism and “worldly comforts.” “Little by little, it diminishes our spirit of sacrifice,” he said, adding that it “alienates us” from those suffer poverty. 

Francis received mass applause when he gave thanks to the nuns and religious women of the United States. “What would the church be without you?” he asked, praising their strength and “spirit of courage.” “To you, religious women, sisters and mothers of these people, I wish to say thank you,” he said.

Francis received a standing ovation following his homily.

Francis’ other stops in New York City include the United Nations and Madison Square, as well as a somber visit to the September 11 Memorial. And there’s a processional through the famed Central Park. Spending just less than two days in the city, Pope Francis will be following the steps of millions of T-shirt-clad sightseers.

The pope arrived in New York Thursday after taking off from Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington on Thursday afternoon. At the top of the steps to the airplane, he turned, removed his white skull cap, smiled and waved goodbye. 

He flew into Kennedy Airport, where his greeting party included Cardinal Timothy Dolan and 200 indigent people. Francis’ then took his motorcade along Fifth Avenue for the vespers service at St. Patrick’s.

Pope Francis started his Manhattan trip in his familiar Fiat 500 before switching to the open-air Popemobile along Fifth Avenue. The pontiff was greeted by cathedral bells and the cheers of thousands outside St. Patrick’s where he was met by both New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The swelling crowd lined the famed avenue, eagerly awaiting Francis’ arrival. It included both young and old — from near and far — all hoping to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father on his way to a 6:45 p.m. vespers service at St Patrick’s.

The pontiff speaks to the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, then visits the 9/11 Memorial and goes to Madison Square Garden for a Mass with thousands of people. Then it’s on to Philadelphia for the weekend.

For more feature photography, go to msnbc.com/photography

NBC News’ Daniella Silva contributed to this article, which first appeared on NBCNews.com

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