“Thank you for your welcome, and for your prayers,” the first pope from Latin America said from a window of the papal apartment high above the square. “Pray for me,” he added.
Dozens of flags from Francis’s native Argentina were waving in the crowd as the former cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio recited the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer, the first of his papacy.
The occasion has traditionally been a moment to comment on international issues, but Francis instead used the occasion to emphasise his Italian roots.
The former Buenos Aires archbishop, whose parents hailed from Italy’s northwestern Piedmont region, said he chose to name himself after St Francis of Assisi because of his “spiritual ties with this land”.