Over 200,000 gather for Pope Francis Inauguration Mass

Tue, 03/19/2013 - 08:17

This morning, more than 200,000 people gathered in St Peter's Square in Rome for the inauguration Mass of Pope Francis.

The Pope marked the start of the new pontificate with a long tour around St. Peter's Square on an open jeep. He waved and smiled at groups of people from all over the world, hoisting their banners in the square. He got out of the jeep to say hello to a disabled person, then stopped again to kiss two children held out to him from the crowd and, at some point, he also blessed the faithful, smiled and seemed to mouth the word 'ciao'.

The religious celebration began at St. Peter's tomb, where the Piscatory ring and the Pallium woolen vestment of the papal office were conferred to the new pope. Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, chose a model of Piscatory ring made of gold-plated silver, while in the past it was typically cast in gold for each pope. The ring served as the official signet to seal papal documents until 1842. The fact that Pope Francis chose to have a silver ring has been seen by many as a sign that he is aiming to be the "pope of the poor".

While no special invitations were sent out to foreign delegations for the inauguration, 132 country delegations and international organizations were present at the inaugural mass.
The Italian delegation included President Giorgio Napolitano, outgoing Premier Mario Monti, the president of the Italian Constitutional Court, and the newly elected speakers of the Italian Chamber Laura Boldrini and Senate Pietro Grasso. Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner flew in for the mass and was received in a private audience on Monday.

During the first mass of his Pontificate, Pope Francis warned against hatred, envy and pride: "Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives!," the Pope said. He explained: "Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down!".