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Pope Francis appears for first angelus in St Peter's Square

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 18th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Before more than 100,000 people that had massed in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis gave his first Angelus prayer and asked the faithful to pray for him. "Thank you for your welcome, and for your prayers," the first pope from the Americas said from a window of the papal apartment high above the square. "Pray for me," he added.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dozens of flags from Francis's native Argentina were waved as former cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio recited the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer, the first of his papacy. While the occasion has traditionally been a moment to comment on international issues, Francis used the moment to emphasize his Italian roots.

The pope's family emigrated from Italy's northwestern Piedmont region. The former cardinal said he chose to name himself after St Francis of Assisi because of his "spiritual ties with this land."

The pope was welcomed in high style as around 1,000 people thronged a narrow passageway outside the Church of Saint Anna, his local parish church just inside the Vatican gates, as he arrived for mass. Francis walked along the barrier reaching deep into the crowd, shaking hands, laughing and joking. It marked his first occasion to meet members of the public up close since being elected this past Wednesday.

There were chants of "Francesco, Francesco" as he turned and walked through the iron gates out onto the main street, where most of the crowd were waiting, leaving his anxious security men rushing to keep up.

As the service began, he was led inside the building, waving as he went.

The mass led by the first Latin American pontiff was held in the Santa Anna Church within the Vatican walls ahead of his first appearance in a window of the papal apartments at noon.

As onlookers began to leave, the pope reappeared minutes later, wearing a purple bishop's miter and robes, as part of the procession at the start of the mass.

Cries of surprise were quickly hushed as the crowd recognized they were part of the service. The faithful wait for a glimpse of the new Pope

Maria Hakolinen, who prays at the church every morning, said she had never seen Pope Benedict there on a Sunday morning. "I come here every day so I thought of course I should come to say hello you are welcome," she said.

"I see that he is a very natural, very sensitive and very special person," she added.

"We really took him into our hearts in that same moment when he prayed the Our Father in St Peter's square and started to pray with us and asked us to pray with him."

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