Pope Francis inaugurated in sumptuous ceremony
Posted Tuesday, March 19 2013 at 14:25
Pope Francis knelt at the tomb of St Peter and donned a ring symbolising his new papal powers at a sumptuous inauguration on Tuesday as tens of thousands of pilgrims cheered Latin America's first pontiff.
Francis swept into a sun-drenched St Peter's Square to greet the throngs and walked in a procession along the length of the basilica as prelates chanted a Litany of Saints in Latin.
The 265th successor to St Peter, considered the first Pope, also received from his cardinals the pallium — a lambswool strip of cloth that symbolises the Pope's role as a shepherd.
The "Fisherman's Ring" bestowed on him by Angelo Sodano, the dean of the college of cardinals, is a personalised signet ring traditionally worn by popes in honour of St Peter — a fisherman.
Crowds had gathered from the early morning to see the Argentine Pope's enthronement in a rare ceremony laden with centuries-old rituals and lavish imagery.
Francis gave the thumbs-up to ecstatic crowds and stopped to kiss babies, getting off the car at one point to bless a handicapped man.
"With Pope Francis, the Church will be closer to the people and to the modern world," said Father Rodrigo Grajales, a 31-year-old Colombian priest.
The former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has already won hearts in Rome with a disarmingly informal style which contrasted with Tuesday's pomp and ceremony.
The Vatican said 132 foreign delegations attended.
Bergoglio was the surprise choice at a conclave of cardinals to find a successor to 85-year-old Benedict XVI, who last month brought a sudden end to a papacy that had often been overshadowed by scandal, saying he was too old to carry on.
He was the first Pope to resign since the Middle Ages.
The jovial Francis has said he chose his papal name in honour of the mediaeval Italian saint St Francis of Assisi and has called for a "poor Church for the poor", warning the world's cardinals against pursuing worldly glories.
"Go Francis! We Will Be With You Wherever You Go!" read a sign held up by a group of Brazilian nuns in St Peter's Square.
Sister Rosa, an elderly Italian nun, said she expected the Pope would be "another St Francis on Earth for love, goodness, poverty and humility".
The son of an Italian immigrant railway worker from a working-class quarter of Buenos Aires has been effusive in a way that is unusual in the Vatican.