Magic night in Buenos Aires for 'papa nuestro'
Residents flock to Plaza de Mayo19 March, 20:17
(by Javier Fernandez)
(ANSA) - Buenos Aires, March 19 - Residents flocked to the central Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires in the early hours of Tuesday morning to follow the inauguration mass of Argentina's Pope Francis in Rome.
Catholic faithful mixed with curious onlookers in the packed square, the geographical and historical 'heart' of the Argentine capital.
A cheer rang out when, shortly before the start of the religious ceremony at St Peter's at 9.30am Italian time, the newly elected successor to Benedict XVI called in to greet the crowd, thanking those gathered for their prayers. "I want to ask you a favour," said Francis in his characteristic informal tone. "Let's walk together, let's look after each other, look after each other, let's not hurt one another, let's take care of life, the family, nature, children, the elderly".
"Let there be no hatred or conflict, let's put envy to one side, let's talk to one another," concluded the 76-year-old former archbishop of Buenos Aires who was elected pope by a conclave of cardinals last Wednesday.
On Monday evening only a few hundred people turned out for the prayer vigil ahead of the inauguration mass, but by 4am local time Plaza de Mayo had filled with families with small children and groups of young people wanting to pay tribute to 'Papa nuestro', 'our Pope'.
Blue and white Argentinean flags and yellow and white Vatican flags fluttered above the crowd along with signs reading 'Jesus is the hope rejected by this world' and 'Thank you Francis for saying 'yes''. Silence fell over the square at the start of the religious ceremony, which was broadcast on four big screens installed for the occasion. Many of those present knelt in devotion for the consecration of the bread and wine, the most sacred part of the liturgy.
The silence was broken only at the end of the mass, when the crowd took up the spontaneous cry of 'Long live the Pope!' and chanted the slogans "Francisco primero, te quiere el mundo entero" (Francis I, the whole world loves you) and "If this isn't the Church then where is it?".
National and foreign media thronged the square and so did the souvenir sellers with all manner of trinkets from flags to keyrings and even transfers in honour of the Argentinean pope.