At least 200,000 people flocked to St. Peter's Square on Tuesday for the inauguration mass of Pope Francis. Pilgrims arrived in the first hours of the morning with welcome signs for the Argentine pope.
Known as "the Mass of the beginning of the Petrine ministry," the ceremony formally installed the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 266th pontiff in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.
Wearing his papal whites, Francis waved, smiled, kissed babies and gave an informal thumbs-up to the ecstatic crowds as he toured the sun-basked square.
Dozens of blue and white flags from Francis' native Argentina, as well as from countries all over the world fluttered above the crowd.
In a joyous atmosphere, pilgrims chanted the pope's name in Italian -- "Francesco, Francesco!" and cried "Viva il Papa" -- long live the pope.
The former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was presented with the Fisherman's Ring and the pallium, a white wool stole embroidered with five silk crosses, symbols of his role and power as the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.The ring is made of gold-plated silver, in contrast with Benedict's chunky gold ring.
Pope Francis also chose his coat of arms -- the same that he used as the archbishop of Buenos Aires, but with the addition of the golden papal miter and the crossed keys that unlock the kingdom of God.His motto will be “miserando atque eligendo” (Latin for “because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him”).
For the Mass, Francis wore plain white vestments, trimmed with gold and brown, and simple black shoes, in contrast to Benedict's hand made red loafers.
Among the multitude of pilgrims, 130 delegations from around the world, including six sovereigns and 31 heads of state, took their seats for the open-air service. The guest list included U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (front row, at right), German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Bishops (pictured), cardinals and priests attended the ceremony.
Religious leaders covered a broad range, and included 33 Christian churches, 16 Jewish leaders, and Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh leaders. The ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, also participated. It's the first time the spiritual head of Orthodox Christians attend a papal inauguration since the Great Schism between western and eastern Christianity in 1054.
“Don't be afraid of tenderness,” Francis said in the homily. Although he has been winning hearts with his humble, warm and direct style, Pope Francis will have to face big challenges.
The path for the newly installed pontiff will be hard with issues such as a global crisis of faith, a dysfunctional church administration, the sex abuse and the Vatilieak corruption scandals.