stops by hotel to get bags
VATICAN CITY (AP) Pope Francis put his humility on display during his first day as pontiff Thursday, stopping by his hotel to pick up his luggage and pay the bill himself in a decidedly different style for the papacy usually ensconced inside the frescoed halls of the Vatican.
The break from the tradition minded previous pontificate was evident even in Francis wardrobe choices: He kept the simple pectoral cross of his days as bishop and eschewed the red cape that Benedict XVI w timberland uk ore when he was presented to the world for the first time in 2005 choosing instead the simple white cassock of the papacy.
The former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, began his first day as pope making an early morning visit in a simple Vatican car to a Roman basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary and prayed before an icon of the Madonna.
He had told a crowd of some 100,000 people packed in rain soaked St. Peter Square just after his election that he intended to pray to the Madonna “that she may watch over all of Rome.”
He also told cardinals he would call on retired Pope Benedict XVI, but the Vatican said the visit wouldn take place for a few days.
The main item on Francis agenda Thursday was an inaugural afternoon Mass in the Sistine Chapel, where cardinals on Wednesday elected him leader of the 1.2 billion strong church in an unusually quick conclave.
CORRECTS YEAR TO 2013 In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope F might be expected to outline some of his priorities as pope in the homily. It was expected to be delivered in Italian, again another b timberland uk reak from the traditional minded Benedict whose first homily as pope was in Latin.
Francis, the first Jesuit pope and first non European since the Middle Ages, decided to call himself Francis after St. Francis of Assisi, the humble friar who dedicated his life to helping the poor.
The new pope, known for his work with the poor in Buenos Aires slums, immediately charmed the crowd in St. Peter which roared when his name was announced and roared again when he emerged on the loggia of the basilica with a simple and familiar: “Brothers and sisters, good evening.”
Waving shyly, he said the cardinals job was to find a bishop of Rome. “It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth, but here we are. Thank you for the welcome.”
The 76 year old Bergoglio, said to have finished second when Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005, was chosen on just the fifth ballot to replace the first pontiff to resign in 600 years.
CORRECTS YEAR TO 2013 In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope F urged the crowd to pray for Benedict and immediately after his election spoke by phone with the retired pope, who has been living at the papal retreat in Castel Gandolfo south of Rome. A visit to Benedict would be significant because Benedict resignation has raised concerns about potential power conflicts emerging from the peculiar situation of having a reigning pope and a retired one.
Benedict longtime aide, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, accompanied Francis to the visit Thursday morning at St. Mary Major, the ANSA news agency reported. In addition to being Benedict secretary, Gaenswein is also the prefect of the papal household and will be arranging the new pope schedule.
After the visit, Francis also stopped by a Vatican owned residence in downtown Rome to pick up the luggage that he left behind before moving into the Vatican hotel for the conclave.
He paid the bill “to give a good example,” according to the Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi.
It was a remarkable show of simplicity and humility for a man who could easily have dispatched someone to do the job for him.
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis prays inside St. Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
“He met with us on our own level,” Dolan said.
Later, during dinner, the new pope addressed a few words to the cardinals:
” God forgive you for what you have done, Francis told them, Lombardi said.
Like many Latin American Catholics, Francis has a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary, and his visit to the basilica was a reflection of that. He prayed before a Byzantine icon of Mary and the infant Jesus, the Protectress of the Roman People.
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Wed had a great devotion to this icon of Mary and every time he comes from Argentina he visits this basilica,” said one of the priests at the basilica, the Rev. Elio Montenero. “We were surprised today because did not announce his visit.”
He then also went into the main altar area of the basilica and prayed before relics of the manger in Bethlehem where Jesus is said to have been born an important pilgrimage spot for Jesuits
Francis election elated Latin America, home to 40 percent of the world Catholics which has nevertheless long been underrepresented in the church leadership. On Wednesday, drivers honked their horns in the streets timberland uk of Buenos Aires and television announcers screamed with elation at the news.
Cardinal Thomas Collins, the archbishop of Toronto, said the cardinals clearly chose Francis because he was simply “the best person to lead the church.”
“I can speak for all the cardinals but I think you see what a wonderful pope he is,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “He just a very loving, wonderful guy. We just came to appreciate the tremendous gifts he has. He much beloved in his diocese in Argentina. He has a great pastoral history of serving people.”
Faithful wave an Argentine flag and sing outside the Metropolitan Cathedral as they celebrate in Bue new pontiff brings a common touch. The son of middle class Italian immigrants, he denied himself the luxuries that previous cardinals in Buenos Aires enjoyed. He lived in a simple apartment, often rode the bus to work, cooked his own meals and regularly visited slums that ring Argentina capital.
“If he brings that same desire for a simple l timberland uk ifestyle to the papal court, I think they are all going to be in shock,” said the Rev. “This may not be a man who wants to wear silk and furs.”
Francis considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church.