Pilgrims from down under warm to Pope Francis

People flocked to St Peter’s Square earlier today in anticipation of yet another huge crowd, for Pope Francis’ Inauguration Mass, among them were pilgrims from New Zealand and the South Pacific.

At 10pm the streets were blocked and cafes and restaurants were closed, leaving just security personnel, who shared food and coffee with a handful of pilgrims sitting on the cobblestones.

Early in the morning, and not to be outdone, a larger crowd of about a hundred nuns from all over the world, formed at the first barrier. Later thousands moved up behind them.

When the gates finally opened, all were told to “be calm” by security as the crowd rushed through the metal detectors into an empty St Peter’s Square.

The Mass was preceded by another warm interaction between the newly elected Argentinian pope, who blessed pilgrims while on the pope mobile.

The two hour Mass went as planned in the mid-morning sun, with the Pope Francis again stressing the need to protect the poor and also care for the environment .

Informally, many are already beginning to comment on the sharp contrasting styles between Francis and his predecessor Benedict, an intellectual heavyweight, who sometimes lacked the softer skills.

Soon after Communion, the pilgrims waved goodbye, shouting out “Viva Papa”, many staying in the square to wave their respected flags, pray and even dance.

– Chris Hooton is a New Zealander travelling in Europe. He recalls his experience being at Pope Francis inauguration.

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