June 20, 2013
Francis visits Basilica in Roma
Francis went to Rome's 5th-century Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore; there he prayed before a famed icon of Mary, the mother of Jesus, which is known as the Salus Populi Romani, or Protectress of the Roman People.
"Be merciful with all souls because they really need it. And pray for me", were the words of Francis to the dominicans priests of the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore.
"He spoke to us cordially, like a father," said Father Ludovico Melo, a priest who prayed with the new pontiff. "We were given 10 minutes' advance notice that the pope was coming."
In his first words to the crowd in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday evening he made clear that he would take that part of his role seriously and made good on the promise by visiting one of the Italian capital's most important churches.