Vatican City

Francis begins first Easter Mass as pope

Pontiff set to give Urbi et Orbi message

Francis begins first Easter Mass as pope

Vatican City, March 31 - Pope Francis began his first Easter Sunday Mass as pontiff before a crowd of tens of thousands of people from all over the world in St Peter's Square on Sunday. The 76-year-old Argentine pope walked to the altar on the steps of St. Peter's Square dressed in simple white vestments and opened the Mass before an icon of the Risen Christ. Easter Sunday commemorates the day of the resurrection of Jesus, making it the most important moment in the Church's liturgical calendar. At the end of the Mass Francis will deliver his first Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world), a papal address and blessing that is given on certain special occasions. As part of the Urbi et Orbi, Francis will grant a plenary indulgence to all the faithful following the Mass in St Peter's Square and on radio, TV and "new communications media". Francis, who was elected as pope on March 13 after his predecessor Benedict XVI shocked the world last month by announcing he was stepping down, posted a message on the papal Twitter account before Sunday's Mass. "Accept the risen Jesus into your life," read the post on the @Pontifex account. "Even if you have been far away, take a small step towards him: he awaits you with open arms".

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