St. Peter's Square

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On Easter, Francis Breaks With Tradition

Francis gives impromptu homily on steps to St. Peter's Basilica

(Newser) - In an impromptu Easter Sunday speech, Pope Francis encouraged people to hold fast in their "fearful hearts" to faith despite all the wars, sickness, and hatred in the world, acknowledging that many wonder where God is amid so much evil and suffering. Tens of thousands of faithful braved heavy... More »

Pope Embraces the Kids via Church's Tablet 2.0

Francis opts for gadget to sign himself up for World Youth Day

(Newser) - Pope Francis today opened the registration period for next year's World Youth Day in Poland, using a tablet to sign himself up from a window overlooking St. Peter's Square during the traditional Sunday blessing. The pontiff was joined by two young people as he extended an invitation to... More »

Pope Francis Beatifies Paul VI

Says 'God is not afraid of new things'

(Newser) - Pope Francis today beatified Pope Paul VI, concluding the remarkable meeting of bishops debating family issues that drew parallels to the tumultuous reforms of the Second Vatican Council which Paul oversaw and implemented. Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI was on hand for the Mass. The bishops failed to reach consensus on... More »

2 Living Popes Canonize 2 Predecessors

John Paul II and John XXIII canonized in historic ceremony at Vatican

(Newser) - It's a four-pope day at the Vatican, as two living popes gathered for the first time to canonize two of their predecessors: Pope Francis presided today over what the AP notes is really a pretty brief ceremony that confirmed the sainthood of John Paul II and John XXIII. Appearing... More »

Bird Thugs Attack Pope's 'Peace Doves'

Seagull, crow apparently didn't get the peace memo

(Newser) - It was supposed to be a nice moment: Pope Francis, in the course of calling for calm in the Ukraine today, had a couple of little kids release two doves over St. Peter's Square in a gesture of peace. But apparently in the animal world, as in the human... More »

Man Sets Self Ablaze at Vatican

Now in hospital with 'serious burns,' condition 'grave'

(Newser) - A man is in "grave" condition after he doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire in St. Peter's Square today around 8:30am local time, ANSA reports. The 51-year-old man was treated at a nearby hospital, then transferred to a larger one, with serious burns to... More »

Pope Francis: I'm a Pharmacist, Prayer Is My Drug

Pontiff gives out rosaries in pill boxes, says 'good for the heart'

(Newser) - Joking that he's like a pharmacist, Pope Francis is promoting prayer as medicine for the heart. Appearing today at his studio window, Francis held up a rosary in a box designed to resemble a packets of pills, before volunteers distributed thousands of those boxes, which feature a design of... More »

100K Throng Vatican for Francis' Syria Vigil

'War is always a defeat for humanity,' pope says during 4-hour vigil

(Newser) - Tens of thousands filled St. Peter's Square for a four-hour Syria peace vigil late yesterday, answering Pope Francis' call for a grassroots cry for peace that was echoed by Christians and non-Christians alike in Syria and vigils around the world. The Vatican estimated about 100,000 took part in... More »

Pope Blesses ... Harley Davidsons?

Thousands of bikers jam St. Peter's Square for Mass

(Newser) - It was a rougher-than-usual crowd in St. Peter's Square today, with the dull roar of Harley Davidsons drowning out the "Our Father" and Pope Francis himself doling out blessings to the thousands of bikers crowding into what the AP terms "a giant Harley parking lot." The... More »

Francis Celebrates 1st Easter

250K pack St. Peter's Square to hear pontiff's call for peace

(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... More »

At Inaugural, Francis Calls for Protection of Planet, Poor

New pope tours St. Peter's Square in open-top Jeep

(Newser) - Pope Francis officially kicked off his papacy today with a call to protect the planet and its poor, in a "low-key" yet dignitary-stuffed inaugural Mass that installed him as the Catholic Church's 266th pontiff. “Let us never forget that authentic power is service and that the pope,... More »

Pope Francis Hangs Out With Pilgrims, Gives 1st Angelus

Makes surprise appearance at Vatican side gate

(Newser) - Those looking for pomp and circumstance from Pope Francis' first Sunday as pontiff got instead an eyeful of his humble, man-of-the-people charm offensive. Ahead of his first Angelus blessing, Francis slipped out a side gate of the Vatican and mingled with startled pilgrims, even kissing babies and asking one, "... More »

Benedict's Farewell: Sometimes Lord Seemed to Sleep

Crowd tops 150K for his last general audience

(Newser) - It's Benedict XVI's penultimate day of pontificating, and tens of thousands of the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for an emotional farewell in which the pope recalled the "great burden" God had given him in 2005 and noted that his papacy had weathered difficult moments... More »

Benedict Gives Final Blessing

Says God called him to a life of prayer

(Newser) - Pope Benedict has given his final Sunday blessing as pontiff from his window on St. Peter's Square, telling thousands of cheering well-wishers that "in prayer, we will always be close," reports the BBC . The pope, who steps down on Thursday, said in his final Angelus address that... More »

Benedict: Pray for Me, Next Pope

It's his second-to-last Angelus blessing until he steps down

(Newser) - Pope Benedict XVI is blessing the faithful from his window overlooking St. Peter's Square for the first time since announcing his resignation, cheered by an emotional crowd of tens of thousands of well-wishers from around the world. Speaking in Spanish, Reuters notes that Benedict implored the crowd, "I... More »

'Spontaneous' Masses Back Benedict

Vatican claims 150K show up in solidarity with pope

(Newser) - Tens of thousands of balloon- and banner-toting faithful overflowed St. Peter's Square today in a massive show of solidarity with Pope Benedict XVI over the clerical sex abuse scandal. Benedict said he was comforted by such a "beautiful and spontaneous show of faith and solidarity"—organized by 68... More »

Scandal Swirls as Pope Opens Holy Week

Vatican digs in, insists Benedict acted appropriately

(Newser) - Pope Benedict XVI has opened the church's solemn Holy Week amid increasing questions about his own handling of priest sex abuse cases. Benedict's procession entered St. Peter's Square today at the start of Palm Sunday Mass. The pontiff, in crimson and golden vestments, waved to the throngs of faithful waving... More »

Bizarre Collection Headed to Bush Library

From cowboy hats to swords to classified files

(Newser) - George W. Bush’s $300 million presidential library will be filled with documents, including many classified files. In all, it’ll boast roughly 68 million pages of documents, 175 million e-mails, 3,845,912 photos, and more videos than any previous president's library. But it’ll also have a wide... More »

In Easter Message, Pope Backs Israel-Palestine Peace

Sends message to Italy earthquake survivors

(Newser) - In his Easter message, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged Israel-Palestine peace efforts, acknowledged Italy’s earthquake survivors, and called for hope in trying times, Reuters reports. “At a time of world food shortage, of financial turmoil, of old and new forms of is urgent to rediscover grounds for... More »

Religious Tourists Still Flocking to Italy

Easter likely to see 100,000 in St. Peter's Square

(Newser) - While industries around the world feel the weight of recession, Italy’s religious tourism appears fairly immune, USA Today reports. “It's one of the only areas where things haven't slowed down much," said a religious tour marketer. "Religious pilgrims still want to have the same experiences”—... More »

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