Pope Francis Hangs Out With Pilgrims, Gives 1st Angelus

Makes surprise appearance at Vatican side gate
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2013 6:33 AM CDT
Pope Francis Hangs Out With Pilgrims, Gives 1st Angelus
Pope Francis greets faithful at the Vatican, Sunday, March 17, 2013. Pope Francis began his first Sunday as pontiff by making an impromptu appearance from a side gate of the Vatican.   (AP Photo/Antonello Nusca)

Those looking for pomp and circumstance from Pope Francis' first Sunday as pontiff got instead an eyeful of his humble, man-of-the-people charm offensive. Ahead of his first Angelus blessing, Francis slipped out a side gate of the Vatican and mingled with startled pilgrims, even kissing babies and asking one, "Are you a good boy?" and joking, "Are you sure?" Francis then headed not to St. Peter's Basilica, but to the Vatican's tiny church, where he gave a five-minute impromptu homily, reports the AP. He greeted church-goers one by one as they left, notes the BBC, asking them to pray for him.

The theme continued with the pope's first Angelus blessing, which was delivered at the noon hour from his studio window to a crowd of some 100,000 and shouts of "Francesco!" Instead of reading a written speech, Francis again spoke off the cuff, about God's power to forgive. Afterward, he sent his first tweet from his @Pontifex account: "Dear friends, I thank you from my heart and I ask you to continue to pray for me. Pope Francis." (Read more Pope Francis stories.)

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