Pope Francis's inauguration mass: Live Report

As events at the Vatican wind down, AFP is closing its live report on Pope Francis's inauguration mass and the historic installation of Latin America's first pontiff.

-- Earlier some 200,000 pilgrims watched from St Peter's Square as Pope Francis received the symbols of papal power.

-- Addressing the crowds, the Argentinian vowed to embrace the "poorest, the weakest" of humanity and promised to lead a "lowly, concrete and faithful" papacy.

-- In his homily, the new pontiff urged world leaders not to shun "omens of destruction and death". Later he greeted the heads of 132 national delegations in St Peter's Basilica as Catholics from around the world hailed their new leader.


1225 GMT: The exhaustive greeting of 132 national delegations finally draws to a close, though it's not over for the pope who continues to greet Vatican staff, shaking their hands and chatting.

1212 GMT: From the Americas, the pope welcomes Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, a former Marxist guerrilla and an atheist, while Chilean President Sebastian Pinera asks the new pontiff to bless some rosary beads.

The greetings continue...Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, US Vice-President Joe Biden.

1207 GMT: Back at the meet and greet in the Basilica some controversial figures are among those being welcomed by the new pope.

Among the line-up are Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who sidestepped an EU travel ban to be there, and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, upsetting China, which has urged the Vatican to break diplomatic ties with the island.

1158 GMT: It was Benedict XVI who became the first pope to tweet. But all his posts were wiped from the @pontifex handle when he stepped down, handing the mantle to Francis.

Rodrigo Grajales, a 31-year-old Colombian priest believes that "with Pope Francis, the Church will be closer to the people and to the modern world."

1149 GMT: The pope sums up the core message of his homily on his Twitter account @Pontifex, which now has more than 2 million followers.

"True power is service," he tweets. "The Pope must serve all people, especially the poor, the weak, the vulnerable."

And earlier: "Let us keep a place for Christ in our lives, let us care for one another and let us be loving custodians of creation."

1144 GMT: In Buenos Aires vast crowds erupted with joy earlier when the pope received his papal symbols, after waiting all night in a festive atmosphere.

And Francis had a special message for the tens of thousands gathered in Plaza de Mayo. "Please do not forget this bishop, who is far but loves you very much. Pray for me," he urged in a telephone message broadcast on giant screens.

1136 GMT: AFP's Pol Costa brings us more reaction from Vatican visitors, this time from the pope's home country:

"We are very happy that he is the pope," says Maria Rosa, a 50-year-old tourist from Buenos Aires, who has made the trip with her husband. "We have been following Bergoglio's career for a very long time, so we know his entire career.

"He is very humble and he will make the church reach out to the people, not like before when the people had to go to church."

1124 GMT: There is a genuine optimism about Francis's papacy among those gathered, and warmth towards the 76-year-old pontiff.

"He reminds me of John Paul II," says Rosell Macaraig, 30, from the Philippines, who brought her three-year-old son Tommy to see the pope. "I think he inspires the same sort of enthusiasm and affection. He's not a young pope but I think he will perform well."

1119 GMT: With the inaugural rituals complete, many Catholics will be waiting eagerly to see how the pope's vision of a "Church for the poor" will play out.

Riccardo Monteverde, 32, from Rome, works in a homeless shelter and has been watching the mass from outside St Peter's Square. He tells AFP: "I work in a homeless shelter near the Vatican and we've heard a lot about how Francis wants to help the poor. Time will tell. Some of our guests want to invite him to dinner!"

1112 GMT: Ecuador's president Rafael Correa is in tears as he meets the new pontiff -- the first non-European for nearly 1,300 years. He is accompanied by his mother who receives a kiss on the cheek from Francis.

The pope, who appeared serious and sombre during the mass, is now relaxed and smiling, Francoise Kadri tells us, greeting dignitaries and their wives, many of whom are wearing black veils, or "mantillas".

1103 GMT: The pope is greeting heads of state in the basilica now, with Cristina Kirchner, president of his native Argentina, first up for a handshake.

Next is Italy's president Giorgio Napolitano and his wife Clio, and Prime Minister Mario Monti and his wife.

Belgium King Albert II and his wife Paola follow, along with Prince Albert of Monaco and spouse Charlene, with both wives wearing veils.

1055 GMT: Outside the square, more crowds have been assembled throughout the mass, with teenagers and young children sat watching in front of large screens on the avenue leading up to the plaza, Eleanor Ide tells us.

Elsbeth Hine, 19, from Britain, describes the moment she heard about Pope Francis's election: "My mum burst in on me in the shower to tell me, we couldn't believe the Church would be so revolutionary as to choose someone from Latin America, we cracked open the champagne."

1050 GMT: Some in the crowd are waving giant hands, showing the peace sign. A young Columbian holds a placard reading: "Francisco amigo de la paz" -- "Francis friend of peace".

1046 GMT: The mass ends with the bells of St Peter's Basilica ringing out across the square as the pope leaves the plaza and enters the basilica where he will greet delegations from around the globe.

Organ music strikes up as the assembled crowds of tourists take snaps of the historic scene.

1037 GMT: There are around 500 priests giving communion in the square, while the pope himself gives it to a select few at the altar.

1033 GMT: As the officiants work their way through the crowds in a carefully orchestrated ceremony, the choirs of the Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica chant slowly and solemnly, Francoise Kadri reports.

From above, it looks like a ballet of yellow and white umbrellas, he says.

1023 GMT: Officiants, comprising deacons and priests, make their way through the rows of people with chalices of consecrated wine and bread, to give the communion. They are accompanied by assistants parasols in the Vatican colours, yellow and white.

The sun is shining brightly over St Peter's Square, Francoise Kadri tells us, with temperatures mild, even for an Italian spring.

1015 GMT: The pope and those assisting him say the Lord's Prayer, again in Latin, before gesturing to eachother with a sign of peace.

The peace of the Lord be always with you, says Francis.

1008 GMT: Officiants kneel before Pope Francis in sombre fashion, AFP's Francoise Kadri tells us. Still speaking in Latin, he blesses the bread and wine which Catholics believe are transformed into the body and blood of Christ.

A small bell sounds to indicate to the faithful that they should bow their heads.

1003 GMT: Now the new pope leaves his seat and takes his place before the altar of St Peter's Basilica for the Eucharist, or Holy Communion.

Readings are delivered in five languages: Russian, French, Arabic, Swahili and Chinese before the pope's reading of the eucharist liturgy in Latin.

0956 GMT: The pope ends his homily by asking everyone to pray for him, echoing the same request made at his first Angelus at the Vatican on Sunday.

Franciscan monks and Jesuits chant the creed solemnly in Latin before prayers are said in several languages, including French and Chinese.

0949 GMT: The pope's message is not just to his followers, but to world leaders, many of whom are in attendance.

"I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life ... Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world!" he urges.

0940 GMT: The pope speaks of the need for a new horizon of hope, a ray of light in the midst of many clouds, the warmth of hope.

0935 GMT: Cheers from the faithful as the pontiff says "the true power of the pope is service", a service which is "lowly, concrete and faithful."

He raises his voice in emotion as he speaks of a Church which should "embrace the whole of humanity with tender affection, especially the poorest, the weakest and the least important."

0929 GMT: The pope begins his homily now, starting by paying homage to St Joseph, as Catholics also also celebrate the feast of St Joseph today.

"A coincidence rich in significance, it is also the feast of my venerated predecessor, to whom we are close in prayer, full of affection and gratitude," he says, speaking in Italian.

0921 GMT: A priest dressed in oriental liturgical robes reads the gospel according to Matthew in Greek. The pope is then handed the richly bound text, and he holds it up to the crowds.

0914 GMT: An Argentinian woman in the crowds is in tears at the sight of the man she knew as a humble priest back home becoming head of the Church, Eleanor Ide reports.

Meanwhile the mass is being shown on giant screens outside Buenos Aires cathedral, in the Argentine capital where Pope Francis-- then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio -- was formerly Archbishop.

0909 GMT: Visitors praise the pope's informal nature and simplicity.

"The atmosphere seems more relaxed than during Benedict XVI's great masses, as if pope Francis's down to earth nature is rubbing off on people already," says Claudio Gratinelli, 38, a guide for religious tourist groups in Rome.

"He's won my heart, I think he's truly inspirational and a strong man," says Italian taxi driver Susi Martino, 45, as she watches the mass. "He reminds me of my grandfather, who gave us everything, but never let us get away with anything: sweet but rock firm."

0901 GMT: Having received these symbols the pope celebrates mass, joined by some 200,000 people in St Peter's Square.

The area has been separated into sections for the 132 foreign delegations, including 31 heads of state and government.

0856 GMT: In keeping with the pope's emphasis on humility, he has chosen to wear a second-hand Fisherman's Ring, rather than a bespoke one, and it is made from silver, coated in gold, instead of solid gold.

0851 GMT: The pope opens the mass, saying in Latin: "Pax vobis", peace be with you.

He receives the pallium, a lambswool cloth symbolising his role as a shepherd, which is placed on his shoulders.

Next follows the "Fisherman's ring", named in honour of St Peter who was a fisherman by trade. This is presented by the dean of the college of cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.


0843 GMT: The gilded liturgical vestments of the cardinals stand in stark contrast to the pope's simple dress, says AFP's Francoise Kadri.

The basilica is filled with the sombre chanting of the litany of saints.

0832 GMT: The pope, surrounded by archbishops and carrying a gold cross, processes up to the tomb of St Peter, who was considered the first Catholic pontiff.

Now dressed in white liturgical robes and a white silk mitre, he kneels in prayer before the tomb.

0825 GMT: All ages and nationalities are represented in the crowd, with many having flown across continents to be there.

Madura Balay, 84, from India, says: "I'm so pleased to have made it here for his inauguration. I've not flown in years but Pope Francis just seems to have brought such energy to the Church already, he gave me the strength for the journey."

0820 GMT: Pope Francis enters the basilica and security officials reopen the barriers around the square to let in the masses building up on the avenue leading up to it, our correspondent Eleanor adds.

A little girl loses a shoe in the crush to get in in time to see the pope come out again to give mass.

0814 GMT: Dressed in his white robe, the pope clutches his papal cap to his head to stop it blowing off in the wind as he makes his way through crowds, Eleanor Ide reports.

Cries of disappointment and "over here your holiness" as the popemobile turns away and takes a different route through the throng.

Tyler Moore, 24, from New Orleans Theological College Seminary, has travelled from the United States especially for the inauguration. He tells AFP: "Pope Francis is great, he's intriguing, different, a breath of fresh air. I find his way of speaking really down to earth, he's a pastoral figure".

0808 GMT: Screams of excitement as the pope gets out of his "popemobile" to greet people, reports Eleanor Ide.

Commentators have already noted how the pope has differed from his predecessors with his effusive style, presenting a new challenge for security officials. Swiss guards are manning the crowds, helicopters flying overhead, Eleanor tells us.

0805 GMT: Trumpets ring out as the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics passes through the square in an open-top car.

The pontiff waves to the tens of thousands of flag-waving pilgrims, who greet him with cries of "Long live the pope!".


0800 GMT: For many, Pope Francis's inauguration represents a new beginning for the Catholic Church. Maria Lourdes, 36, a nun from Salvador, tells AFP: "It's hugely emotional to be here. Pope Francis's papacy will be a great revolution for the Church, but more than that, for the poor in South America and around the world".

In his first Angelus on Sunday Pope Francis called for a "poor Church for the poor". He said he chose his papal name in honour of St Francis of Assisi, the medieval saint who rejected riches for a life of poverty and humility..

0752 GMT: Thousands of faithful are already filling St Peter's Square, AFP's Eleanor Ide tells us from the Vatican. Hundreds are rushing up the avenue to the basilica, some carrying folding chairs, many waving national banners -- among them plenty of Argentinian ones.

Hymns sound out across the square as people take their places in the sunny plaza or in front of one of several large screens around the square, she says.

0749 GMT: Dignitaries expected to attend today include a heavy contingency from the Americas, reports AFP's Dario Thuburn. Among them the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Paraguay.

More controversially, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has also flown in, sidestepping a ban on EU travel. Meanwhile China says it won't be sending anyone after Taiwan announced its president Ma Yinga-Jeou would be going.

0740 GMT: Huge crowds have already begun to flock to St Peter's Square for the mass, which begins at 0800 GMT.

In a ceremony laden with ritual and imagery, Pope Francis will receive the formal symbols of his papacy, including the lambswool pallium and "Fisherman's ring".

Ahead of the mass the Argentinian, already noted for his familiar, personal style, will make a tour of the plaza to greet the faithful.

WELCOME TO AFP'S LIVE REPORT on Pope Francis's inauguration mass.

Hundreds of thousands of people, including leaders from around the world, are expected to turn out in St Peter's Square for the official installation of Latin America's first pontiff.

Stay with us as we follow this historic event at the Vatican.

Pope Francis waves to the crowds during his inauguration mass at St Peter's Square on March 19, 2013 at the Vatican. Nearly 200,000 pilgrims attended the historic ceremony with the pope vowing to embrace the "poorest, the weakest" of humanity.

Pope Francis (C) walks to the altar during his inauguration mass on March 19, 2013 at St Peter's Square at the Vatican. Nearly 200,000 pilgrims attended the historic ceremony with the pope vowing to embrace the "poorest, the weakest" of humanity.

Faithful stand on St Peter's Square prior to Pope Francis's inauguration mass on March 19, 2013 at the Vatican.

Pope Francis waves from the popemobile before his inauguration mass at St Peter's Square on March 19, 2013 at the Vatican. Nearly 200,000 pilgrims attended the historic event with the pope vowing to embrace the "poorest, the weakest" of humanity.

Faithful hold a banner with picture of Pope Francis in St Peter's Square on March 19, 2013 at the Vatican. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to turn out in for the inauguration of Latin America's first pontiff.