Pope Francis begins papacy with inauguration Mass

Pope Francis begins papacy with inauguration Mass

Pope Francis has officially begun his papacy as the 266th pontiff, receiving the ring symbolising the office and a wool stole ('pallium') symbolising his role as shepherd of his 1.2-billion strong flock.

World leaders and tens of thousands of pilgrims are in the square for today's ceremony.

A cardinal intoned the rite of inauguration at the start of today’s Mass, saying: “The Good Shepherd charged Peter to feed his lambs and his sheep; today you succeed him as the bishop of this church.”

Later half a dozen cardinals approached the Argentine-born Pope to pledge their obedience.

The pallium is a strip of lambswool that represents the Pope's role as a shepherd and the Fisherman's Ring is named in honour of the first pope St Peter, a fisherman by trade.

Earlier the Pope toured St Peter's Square in an open-top car making a a couple of unscheduled stops to bless pilgrims.

The installation occurred in sun-drenched St Peter’s Square in front of tens of thousands of people, princes, sheiks, rabbis and presidents.

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