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Huge Crowds As Pope Conducts His First Angelus

posted 17 Mar 2013, 09:49 by Mpelembe   [ updated 17 Mar 2013, 09:50 ]

Huge crowds in St Peter's Square as Pope Francis appears at window to conduct his first Angelus.

VATICAN (MARCH 17, 2013) (CTV) - Pope Francis stepped up to the window of the papal apartment looking over St. Peter's Square on Sunday (March 17) and seemed slightly taken aback by the cheers from more than 150,000 people who had packed into the square to hear his first Sunday address and blessing.

Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, humbly thanked everyone for their prayers.

"I send cordial greetings to all pilgrims. Thank you for your welcome and for your prayers. I am asking you to continue to pray for me. I renew my embrace to the Roman faithful. And I extend it to all of you, that have come from various parts ofItaly and the World," he said.

The Pope also explained why he had chosen the name of Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, a symbol of peace, austerity and poverty.

"I chose the name of the patron saint of Italy, Saint Francis of Assisi to reinforce my spiritual ties to this country, where as you know, my family has its origins," said Francis.

Cheering well-wishers in the square and started chanting "Francesco, Francesco, Francesco," the new pope's name in Italian, at every opportunity and it reverberated through the square and down a long boulevard leading to the Tiber River.

The new pope's outgoing nature and sense of humour differs notably from the much more formal Benedict, who last month became the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign.

Since his election on Wednesday as the first non-European pope in nearly 1,300 years, Francis has signalled a sharp change of style from his predecessor, Benedict, and has laid out a clear moral path for the 1.2-billion-member Church, which is beset by scandals, intrigue and strife.

Four days after his election, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentinaspoke both as pope and as simple parish priest. He earlier said Mass for a few hundred Vatican workers in a tiny church just inside the city-state's walls.

Many in the crowd were also visibly moved by the blessing by the first South American pope.

"Amazing, amazing to be here. We watched it on TV on Wednesday in Ireland and it's St Patrick's Day today, and it's a very special occasion for us," Irish pilgrim Orla Smith told Reuters TV.

"He has deeply moved us, he is as simple as the words he uses," Italian pilgrimFrancesca said.

"Let's hope he will have a good papacy and helps to bring back all these faithful who have left Catholicism. Long live the pope, I'm very happy," said Argentinian pilgrim Jimmy.

An estimated 150,000 pilgrims from around the world were in St Peter's Squarefor the occasion.