Bomb found at Brazilian shrine ahead of Pope's visit

The device, discovered in a lavatory at one of the country's most revered shrines, was detonated safely

A small bomb has been found in a shrine in the Brazilian town of Aparecida ahead of a planned visit by Pope Francis.

The device was found in a lavatory on Sunday by security officers from the country's air force in the sanctuary halfway between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida is one of Brazil's most revered Catholic pilgrimage site, housing an 18th-century clay statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, regarded as the country's main patroness.

The bomb, made from a plastic pipe wrapped in tape, was detonated by military police before Francis arrived on Monday. It is unclear if the device was related to the pope's visit.

"It was a homemade device with little potential to cause fatalities," the military said in a statement.

"Such episodes formed part of our security forces' training in Aparecida and at no point were civilians' lives in danger."

Protests occurred in front of the Guanabara government palace in Rio de Janeiro on Monday, an hour after it played host to an official welcoming ceremony for Pope Francis.

It was the latest chapter in anti-government unrest that began last month.

Pope Francis is in Brazil to attend World Youth Day, an international Catholic festival.