Vatican City

Pope Francis inauguration mass begins

Pontiff tours St Peter's Square in jeep before ceremony

Pope Francis inauguration mass begins

Vatican City, March 19 - Pope Francis opened the inauguration mass of his papacy on Tuesday by saying in Latin, "Pax vobis" - peace be with you. Francis was presented with the Piscatory ring, or the Ring of the Fisherman, by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, after entering the square filled by an enormous crowd, including delegations from over 130 governments. Francis chose a model of Piscatory ring made of gold-plated silver designed by the late Italian sculptor Enrico Manfrini, who died in 2004. The Ring of the Fisherman, which depicts St. Peter fishing from the side of a boat, is usually cast in gold for each pope. The fact that Francis chose to have a silver ring has been seen by many as a sign that he is aiming to be the "pope of the poor". Francis also received another symbol of papal power, the pallium, a lambswool cloth symbolising the pontiff's role as a shepherd that was placed over his shoulders. The religious part of the inauguration mass started when the new pope prayed on his knees before St. Peter's tomb inside St Peter's Basilica. Francis toured St Peter's Square in an open-top jeep to salute the crowd before the ceremony. A huge wave of cheers and applause greeted the pontiff, who was elected Benedict XVI's successor at last week's conclave. Francis got out of the jeep at one point to say hello to a disabled person. Moments later he stopped the vehicle to stoke and kiss two children held out to him from the crowd, which was dotted with the flags of countries from all over the world, including many from the pope's native Argentina. He also blessed the faithful, smiled and seemed to mouth the word 'ciao'. After the tour, Francis went back inside to put on his ceremonial vestments. Before the mass, he called via telephone a crowd gathered in Buenos Aires to watch the inauguration on a big screen. "Let's walk united all together," the former archbishop of the Argentine capital said. "Let's take care of each other and keep praying for me".

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