BY EMILY LAHR
According to EWTN News, more than 200,000 people gathered to celebrate the pontiff’s inauguration and Installation Mass on March, 19.
Among the crowds were 33 heads of state and 132 delegations from around the world, including Buddhist, Jewish and Muslim community representatives. More notable, however, was the attendance of Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I. This was the first time an Orthodox Patriarch has ever attended a papal inauguration since the Great Schism of the Church in 1054. Fox News reported that the chief rabbi of Rome was also a first-time attendee.
In his homily, Pope Francis emphasized St. Joseph’s role as protector and implored everyone to realize their call to be protectors.
“Joseph is a ‘protector’ because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping,” Pope Francis said. “He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, (and) he can make truly wise decisions.”
The pope pointed out that being a protector “means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, (and) those in need who are often the last we think about.”
Pro-life congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) led a bipartisan delegation that represented the U.S. Congress at the Vatican. He articulated that Pope Francis will live up to his well-chosen name, St. Francis of Assisi, by uniting the Church. Fox News reported that Pope Francis during his trip through the crowd stopped his vehicle to get out and bless a disabled man. Later, he stopped for a group of people in wheelchairs and blessed them. He also stopped to kiss babies and distribute blessings to the thousands.
During the Installation process, Pope Francis received both the Fisherman’s ring and a pallium, a circular white woolen stole bearing five red crosses that symbolize the five wounds of Christ. According to EWTN News, the ring and pallium he chose have significant connection with two of his predecessors. Pope Francis chose the Fisherman’s ring that had been given to Paul VI. This ring portrays St. Peter with the keys to the kingdom. The pallium he chose was the exact one worn by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who was watching the inauguration on TV from the papal retreat in Castel Candolfo, according to Fox News.