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Pope starts Holy Week with appeal for humility

Pope Francis has celebrated his first Palm Sunday Mass in St Peter's Square by encouraging people to be humble and young at heart, as tens of thousands joyfully waved olive branches and palm fronds.

The square overflowed with some 250,000 pilgrims, tourists and Romans eager to join the new Pope at the start of solemn Holy Week ceremonies, which lead up to Easter.

Keeping with his spontaneous style, the first Pope from Latin America broke away several times from the text of his prepared homily to encourage the faithful to lead simple lives.

Pope Francis said that Jesus "awakened so many hopes in the heart, above all among humble, simple, poor, forgotten people, those who don't matter in the eyes of the world".

On Saturday, Francis travelled to Castel Gandolfo to have lunch with his predecessor Benedict XVI in a historic meeting.

The Vatican said the two popes embraced on the helipad. In the chapel, where they prayed together, Benedict offered Francis the traditional kneeler used by the pope. Francis refused to take it alone, saying "We're brothers," and the two prayed together on the same one.

Vatican spokesman Rev Federico Lombardi said Benedict pledged his obedience to the new Pope, while Francis thanked Benedict for his ministry.

In his homily, Francis said that Christian joy "isn't born from possessing a lot of things but from having met" Jesus.

"From seven to 70, the heart doesn't age" if one is inspired by Christian joy, said the pontiff.

Belfast Telegraph

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