Pope Francis Celebrates Inaugural Mass

The new pope urged world leaders to care for the poor and helpless as he officially began his ministry as leader of the Catholic Church. Before the Mass started, the pope spent time greeting the hundreds of thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square and even left his Popemobile to bless a disabled man in the crowd. posted on

1. Pope Francis officially began his ministry as leader of the Catholic Church during his inaugural Mass on Tuesday morning.

STEFANO RELLANDINI / Reuters

2. Catholics from around the world have traveled to Rome over the past week in order to witness the historic event.

Max Rossi / Reuters

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4. The ceremony began at St. Peter’s tomb, where the new pope received the fisherman’s ring, symbolizing the papacy, and the wool stole — called a “pallium” — which symbolizes his role as shepherd of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide.

AP

5. Pope Francis next took to his open-air Popemobile and delighted the crowds outside the Vatican by taking a long ride through St. Peter’s Square.

GIAMPIERO SPOSITO / Reuters

6. Italian media estimated that the crowds for the inaugural Mass could reach 1 million; early reports from American media outlets guessed “tens of thousands.” The Vatican said the actual size was between 150K–200K.

Andrew Medichini / AP

7. The new pope took time to pat babies’ heads before Mass.

PAUL HANNA / Reuters

8. He even exited the Popemobile to bless a disabled man in a wheelchair.

He exits the vehicle to deliver the blessing at 00:57.

9. During the service, Pope Francis emphasized care for the poor and helpless — a message that he has repeated since his election as the Church’s new leader.

Andrew Medichini / AP
Andrew Medichini / AP
Tony Gentile / Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, Taiwanese President Ying-Jeou Ma, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, Prince Albert of Monaco, and Bahrain Prince Sheik Abdullah bin Haman bin Isa Alkhalifa were among the many VIPs in attendance, according to The Associated Press. Some 132 official delegations attended, including more than a half dozen heads of state from Latin America.

PAUL HANNA / Reuters

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (right).

ALESSANDRO BIANCHI / Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (center).

Pope Francis addressed these world leaders in his homily: “Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political, and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: Let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world!”

Andrew Medichini / AP

17. More than 500 priests distributed Communion to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square during Mass.

Andrew Medichini / AP

18. The timing of the inaugural Mass holds special significance to Catholics. Pope Francis chose the Feast of St. Joseph (March 19), the father of Jesus, as the day he would become the “Holy Father” of the Church.

Dmitry Lovetsky / AP

19. Argentinian Catholics awoke hours before dawn to watch their native son’s inaugural Mass. In Buenos Aires, giant screens were set up outside the city’s churches.

ENRIQUE MARCARIAN / Reuters

20. Minutes after the Mass concluded, the new leader of the Catholic Church tweeted two messages.

Let us keep a place for Christ in our lives, let us care for one another and let us be loving custodians of creation.

True power is service. The Pope must serve all people, especially the poor, the weak, the vulnerable.

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