ROME – Pope Franciscus I began his first day as new leader of the Roman Catholic church with a private prayer at the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.
NDJ World | Published: Mar 14 2013 Europe→World News
He stayed for 30 minutes and was accompanied in prayer by priest Ludovico Melo. He knelt before the Byzantine icon ‘Madonna and Child’, often referred to as ‘Salus Populi Romani’.
The basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is the oldest church devoted to Madonna and Child in the world.
Ignatius of Loyola conducted his first mass in that church on December 25 1538. He would go on to establish the Order of the Jesuits later on. Pope Franciscus I is a Jesuit and the first member of that Order to be elected Pope.
The Pope arrived at the church in a vehicle not bearing the license plate ‘CV1′ which is destined for the Pope. He allegedly also chose to go by van, in the company of other Cardinals, to the Santa Martha residence where he spent the night.
Those actions are befitting of the modest and simple image of the new Pope.
The Vatican has released the Pope’s schedule for the next few days.
He will travel to the summer home Castel Gandolfo this afternoon where he will meet his predecessor Emeritus Pope Benedictus XVI, who stepped down last month for health reasons; the first Pope to do so in over 6 centuries.
Afterwards Pope Franciscus I will attend a mass with 114 Cardinals at the Sistine Chapel.
Tomorrow the Pope will meet with the college of Cardinals at the Sala Clementina.
On Saturday ‘Franciscus’ will meet with Vatican news agents and journalists; a rather new tradition at the Vatican.
On Sunday the newly elected Pope will conduct the traditional 11 AM mass from the Papal balcony overlooking Saint Peters’ Square.
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