Pope Francis Sri Lanka releases 572 prisoners in honor of pontiff's visit

The pope earlier in the day held an outdoor Mass before more than half a million people to canonize Joseph Vaz, 17th century missionary

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To mark Pope Francis' visit and proclamation of the country's first saint, Sri Lanka has released nearly 600 prisoners and reduced jail terms for others.

Reuters reports that Prison Commission General, Chandraratne Pallegama, said "We released 572 prisoners who were arrested for minor offences," adding that some were older than 75.

The sentences of an unspecified number of other prisoners were reduced.

"All this was done one to mark the visit by His Holiness," he said

The former British colony usually releases prisoners arrested for minor offences on the island nation's independence day on February 4.

The pope earlier in the day held an outdoor Mass before more than half a million people to make Joseph Vaz, a 17th century missionary, the Indian Island nation's first saint.

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