Pope Francis kisses a child as he arrives to lead an open-air Mass at Rizal Park in Manila
Pope Francis kisses a child as he arrives to lead an open-air Mass at Rizal Park in ManilaReuters

As many as six million catholic devotees attended Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on Sunday, a new record for any pope in history.

Organisers said the crowd surpassed the five million record set by John Paul II at Rizal Park, Manila, in 1995.

The 78-year-old pope wore a plastic yellow poncho over his white cassock to protect him from the torrential rain as he was driven through cheering crowds.

He was standing on a "popemobile" styled after a "jeepney" minibus, the most popular form of transport in the Philippines.

Travelling through the streets of the capital Manila for the main event of his five-day visit, the pontiff stopped to kiss babies and pose for photographs.

Some people had waited throughout the night to get the best places. Gates opened nine hours before the start of the Mass, which lasted nearly three hours.

About 25,000 Philippine national police are backing the presidential security detail tasked with safety for the event, authorities said.

"We are putting our best foot forward in this historic national event," Leonardo A. Espina, the deputy director general of the national police told CNN.

Earlier on Sunday, Pope Francis spent 20 minutes meeting with the father of Kristel Padasas, a volunteer with Catholic Relief Services, who died on Saturday in Tacloban when scaffolding fell on her.

Eye witnesses reported that a sudden gust of wind toppled the structure, which had served as platform for a large loudspeaker during the mass.

During his visit, the pontiff travelled to eastern Tacloban to offer prayers for the survivors of the deadly 2013 typhoon Haiyan that devastated one of the Philippines' poorest regions.

The pope leaves Manila for Rome on Monday.