Pope Francis headlines a packed interfaith service at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum's Foundation Hall Friday, bringing healing and comfort to the place that became a grave for more than 2,600 people 14 years ago.
After being introduced by Cardinal Timothy Dolan at the 11:30 a.m. event, the pontiff will be joined in a meditation on peace with other prominent religious leaders, including Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, the senior rabbi of the Park Avenue Synagogue, Imam Khalid Latif, the executive director of the Islamic Center, Dr. Uma Mysorekar, the president of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, and Dr. Satpal Singh, of the Sikh Council for Interfaith Relations.
Hundreds of first responders and family members of 9/11 victims will also be present at the somber service, which marks the first visit to the symbolic site by a pope since the opening of the memorial in 2011.
"A lot of world leaders have come [to the World Trade Center], but this is the first time a world leader with this big of a presence has been down here," said Catherine McVay Hughes, the chair of Manhattan Community Board 1.
Security is at epic levels for the convocation, inconveniencing many downtown residents. Yet the community is honored by the presence of a man who has prompted international adoration, and many can enjoy the excitement, even if they lack access to the main event. "If you live or work here, you'll be able to see everything from your window," McVay Hughes said.