Thousands gather for Pope Francis' inaugural mass

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 10:03am

The Vatican estimates some 150,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square Tuesday for Pope Francis' inaugural mass.

Wearing the same simple iron cross he wore as a cardinal, and insisting upon remaining close with the people, Francis officially assumed the role as pontiff and set the tone for his papacy. He did not ride in the traditional pope mobile, opting instead for an open-air vehicle that allowed him direct contact with the faithful. He kissed babies and even got out of his S-U-V to bless a disabled man.

Following ceremonies inside St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis processed outdoors where he was inaugurated Bishop of Rome. The newly-elected pontiff accepted a lamb's wool shawl....a symbol of his role as "the good shepherd" and the fisherman's ring, representing his duty to spread the gospel.

Pope Francis delivered his first homily in Italian, asking followers to assume the role of protectors. He said, "We are all protectors of creation of the plan of God, written in nature. Protectors of one another, of the environment. Let us not allow signs of destruction and death accompany our journey of this world."

Five hundred priests dispensed communion to the crowd and at the conclusion of the two-hour mass, Pope Francis greeted the international Heads-of-State in attendance, including Vice President Joe Biden, who lead the U.S. delegation.



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