Pope Francis Crashes Posh Rome District
Reminds of 'cries of poor' as Christmas shopping season kicks off
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 8, 2013 10:00 AM CST
Pope Francis arrives at the Spanish Steps to pray at the statue of the Virgin Mary, in central Rome, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 on the occasion of the Immaculate Conception feast.   (Alessandra Tarantino)
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(Newser) – Pope Francis, in the heart of Rome's fanciest shopping district, has prayed that the poor are never forgotten. His appearance today at the foot of the Spanish Steps follows a papal tradition of public prayer before a statue representing Mary on Dec. 8, a church holiday honoring the mother of Jesus. That date also marks the official start of Rome's Christmas shopping season. Francis' route from the Vatican took him down Via Condotti, which is lined with swank designer stores. He prayed aloud that people "never be left indifferent to the cries of the poor."

Francis wore a white, full-length, double-breasted coat in the chill as he greeted disabled faithful, children, and others among the thousands in the square who took a break from window shopping and gift buying.