VATICAN CITY — Although his remarks were few before praying the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis pleased the crowd of 250,000 by spending almost half an hour greeting them afterward.
Once the final blessing for Palm Sunday Mass was given, Pope Francis went straight into his pre-Angelus address and the recitation of the Marian prayer that he normally presides over at noon every Sunday.
“At the end of this celebration,” the Pope said, “we invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that she may accompany us during Holy Week. May she, who followed her Son with faith all the way to Calvary, help us to walk behind him, carrying his cross with serenity and love, so as to attain the joy of Easter.”
His homily for the Mass contained many of the same themes, focusing on the need for Christians to joyfully embrace the cross and to live lives of generosity.
Pope Francis then proceeded to spend almost 30 minutes in the square, taking his time as he went up and down each aisle, sometimes stopping the popemobile and walking over to the crowd barriers to shake hands, hug people and kiss children.
The faithful warmly received his signs of closeness and his familiarity, which at one point included him giving a thumbs-up to a man he passed in the popemobile.
At the end of his exuberant trip through the crowd, a blind young man was brought to him. He hugged Pope Francis and spoke with him for a few moments.
Some members of the Pope’s security detail then lifted up a few people in wheelchairs so they could receive blessings from the Holy Father.