Benedict XVI arrived a few minutes after midday to Lisbon airport, where he was welcomed by the Head of State, Anibal Cavaco Silva, for his 4-day visit to the Portugal.
The Pope descended the steps of the plane followed by Vatican Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone.
The officially 88% Catholic country has been preparing for the Pope's visit. Posters and gigantic images with the Pope's photograph above the writing 'Bem-Vindo o Papa Bento XVI', 'Welcome to Pope Benedict XVI', line the streets of Lisbon, Fatima and Porto, the three stages of the visit by the Head of the Catholic Church, and the first to the country, where newspapers today are again dedicating dozens of pages to the event.
Three Portuguese TVs, one public and two private, two hours prior to the Pope's arrival have begun direct broadcasting of his visit and will continue to follow his every movement until Friday afternoon, when he leavees Porto to return to Rome. Today, Benedict XVI will celebrate a mass in the afternoon, on the Terreiro do Paco, the famous Lisbon square facing the river Tago, before tens of thousands of the faithful, in the presence of Socialist Premier Jose' Socrates.
Tomorrow, the Pope will go to Fatima, where already thousands of pilgrims have arrived, and where half a million faithful are expected, and on Friday he will be in Porto.
In the Marian sanctuary, the Pope is to celebrate a mass on Thursday, on the Cova da Iria esplanade, where according to Christian tradition on May 13 1917 the Blessed Virgin appeared for the first time to the three shepherds.