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Pope Francis celebrates grandiose inaugural mass

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-03-20

Dozens of political and religious leaders from around the world joined hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to attend the inaugural mass of Pope Francis, the first Latin American pontiff.

Dozens of world and religious leaders have joined hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in Rome to attend a grandiose mass on Tuesday marking the inauguration of Pope Francis. Official delegations from 132 countries attended the event, according to the Vatican.

Pope Francis is known as a defender of the poor

The Latin American pontiff was interrupted by applause several times during his homily, including when he spoke of the need to protect the environment, serve one another with love and tenderness and not allow "omens of destruction,'hatred, envy and pride to defile our lives.''

FRANCE 24’s correspondent reporting from St Peter's square said that 31 heads of state had travelled to Rome to attend the inaugural mass.

“This is going to be a combination of religion as well as diplomacy”, said FRANCE 24’s Seema Gupta earlier on Tuesday.

The homeland of Pope Francis, Argentina, sent the largest delegation with 19 officials led by President Cristina Kirchner. The French government was represented by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

Papal common touch

The new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics began his inauguration ceremony with a long tour through St Peter's square, briefly getting out of his jeep to bless a disabled man. It was a gesture from a man whose short papacy so far is becoming defined by such spontaneous forays into the crowd and concern for the disadvantaged.

Pope Francis then reappeared on the balcony of St Peter's Basilica to read a homily and be presented with a papal “fisherman’s ring” and special circular strip of cloth made of lamb wool, the pallium.

“The fisherman’s ring is unique for every pope (…) It’s actually a recycled ring because it was in possession of a secretary of Pope Paul VI. That’s different from that of his predecessor, Benedict XVI had a gold ring. This, on the other hand, is a gold-plated silver ring”, said FRANCE 24’s Seema Gupta

St Peter’s square was in security lockdown during the inaugural mass as Italian media expected up to one million pilgrims in St Peter’s square. On the other side of the world, a vast crowd in Buenos Aires erupted with joy when the new pointiff delivered a special message in Spanish before the mass asking his fellow Argentinians to pray for him.

 

Date created : 2013-03-19

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