A warm Sri Lanka welcome — pope greeted by 40 elephants

In all, there were 40 elephants that the Sri Lankan authorities decided to include in Pope Francis’ welcome ceremony upon his first visit to the Asian nation.
The elephants came from the Buddhist temples of Colombo, where they were extravagantly dressed up for the occasion and were among the first to greet the Pope when he came out of the open-air Pope Mobile.
Elephants have been an important part of the Sri Lankan armory for the last 2,000 years and the tradition was even continued during the nearly 150 years of British Colonial rule.
Elephants hold an important role in the religious practices of the Sri Lankan people. They are often seen in Buddhist temples or in pictorial expressions of faith.
The Sri Lankan Elephant is the largest of the three subspecies of Asian elephants, reaching more than 11 feet in height and up to 12,000 pounds in weight.
During his opening speech in the mainly Buddhist country, the Pope stressed the importance of building peace and respect among religions.
“Whenever people listen to one another humbly and openly, their shared values and aspirations become all the more apparent,” he said in a Catholic News Agency report.
For complete coverage of Pope Francis’ trip to Sri Lanka, visit: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/srilanka-philippines15/

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