Francis Celebrates 1st Easter
250K pack St. Peter's Square to hear pontiff's call for peace
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2013 5:54 AM CDT
Pope Francis, holding the pastoral staff, celebrates the Easter mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, March 31, 2013.   (Gregorio Borgia)

(Newser) – Pope Francis celebrated his first Easter Sunday Mass as pontiff in St. Peter's Square, packed by joyous pilgrims, tourists, and Romans and bedecked by spring flowers. Wearing cream-colored vestments, Francis strode onto the esplanade in front of St. Peter's Basilica and took his place at an altar set up under a white canopy, urging the faithful to let "those desert places in our hearts bloom." Pilgrims had already filled the square hours before the Mass began in mid-morning, and throughout the service streams of people kept flocking there for his speech and blessing, traditionally delivered after the Mass from the central balcony of the basilica.

By mid-ceremony, some 250,000 people had turned out, the Vatican said. Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday peace plea, saying conflicts have lasted too long in Syria, and between Israelis and Palestinians. Francis also urged reconciliation on the Korean peninsula, where North Korea says it has entered "a state of war" with South Korea. Before a crowd of 250,000 in St. Peter's Square he also denounced warfare and terrorism in Africa, and decried a greedy affluent world looking for "easy gain." Click for a transcript of Francis' Easter message.

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Mar 31, 2013 12:05 PM CDT
Nature gave us a superb brain. Why are so many so eager to turn it out to pasture, and let others do their thinking for them? The sight of thousands of people melting into a one-minded devotion of anyone or anything, sets the alarm bells going.
Mar 31, 2013 7:56 AM CDT
The strangest thing happened to me today. I was awakened by some knocking on our door only to find a rabbit holding a basket of eggs As if that wasn't weird enough, he started talking. I quickly got my "free" shotgun and shot him Roasting him right now in my oven Happy Easter everyone....:-)
Mar 31, 2013 7:30 AM CDT
"those desert places in our hearts bloom." And what scripture is that quoted from - oh that's right, they don't use the Bible. If they used the Bible, they would discover that the word "Easter" is not found there.