CZESTOCHOWA, Poland - Pope Francis prayed on Thursday before Poland's holiest icon - the Black Madonna of Jasna Gora - and said outdoor Mass for a congregation numbering in the tens of thousands, thanking Poles for holding on to their faith in difficult times.
Francis praised what he called "the contagious power of a genuine faith, passed down from family to family" in Poland, which is about 98 percent Catholic.
He said their faith had stayed strong in many situations throughout history. Poland is renowned for keep its Catholic flame burning during decades of Communist rule.
As the 79-year-old pope was blessing the altar at the start of the Mass, he tripped on a step but was helped up by aides and did not appear to be hurt. He continued the Mass and read his homily normally.