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Pope Prays At Rome’s St. Mary Major Basilica [VIDEO]

Pope Francis has opened his pontificate with a visit to Rome’s main basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary, a day after cardinals elected him the first pope from the Americas in a bid to resurrect a Catholic Church in crisis.

Pope Francis waves to the crowd in St. Peter's Square
Pope Francis waves to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square ( L’Osservatore Romano/Getty Images)

Italy’s RAI state television says the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio entered the basilica through a side entrance this morning and left about 30 minutes later. He had told a crowd of some 100,000 people packed in a rain-soaked St. Peter’s Square just after his election that he intended to pray to the Madonna “that she may watch over all of Rome.”

The Vatican says he will celebrate an inaugural Mass in the Sistine Chapel.  However,  Pope Francis won’t be calling on his predecessor Pope Benedict today, but would see him another day.

U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan told reporters yesterday that Francis had planned to visit Benedict on his first full day as pope.

But a Vatican spokesman says Francis won’t be making the trip to Castel Gandolfo on today, and probably wouldn’t go tomorrow, either.

The Vatican says a meeting could happen in a few days.

A Display Of Humility

A man reads a paper in St Peter's Square the morning after the election of Pope Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina
A man reads a paper in St Peter’s Square the morning after the election of Pope Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Pope Francis put his humility on display during his first day as pontiff Thursday, stopping by his hotel to pick up his luggage and praying like a pilgrim before a beloved shrine in a decidedly different style for the papacy usually ensconced inside the frescoed halls of the Vatican.

News reports said he was driven in a simple car — not the papal car — and asked if he needed to pay the bill.

It was a remarkable show of simplicity and humility for a man who could easily have dispatched someone to do the job for him.

He displayed that same sense immediately after his election, shunning the special sedan that was to transport him to the hotel so he could ride on the bus with other cardinals, and refusing even an elevated platform from which he would greet them, according to Dolan.

“He met with us on our own level,” Dolan said.

FULL COVERAGE: Pope Francis


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