May 22, 2013
Papal inaugural Mass straddles religion and politics
Pope Francis's inaugural Mass became an event straddling religion and politics that brought together European royalty, heads of state and world spiritual leaders.
Hundreds of thousands of people attended St. Peter's Square and surrounding streets for the Mass that formally installed Francis as the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
The crowd may be the biggest in Rome since more than 1.5 million people came to the city for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II on May 1, 2011.
The Vatican said six sovereigns, including from Belgium and Monaco, will be among the leaders of more than 130 delegations at the Mass.
One significant attendee will be Bartholomew I, the ecumenical patriarch of Orthodox Christianity, the first time a spiritual leader of world Orthodoxy will attend a papal inaugural Mass since the East-West Schism of 1054.
It will be attended by more than 30 delegations representing other Christian Churches as well as representatives of the world's Jewish and Islamic communities.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and other Western leaders will be in the same VIP section on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who is technically infringing a European Union travel ban.
Mugabe has been banned since 2002 because of allegations of vote rigging and human rights abuses but the Vatican is not part of the European Union, allowing him to bend the rules.
The Vatican stressed it does not issue invitations for such events but that they are open to representatives of all nations.
The Vatican meanwhile revealed the new pope's coat of arms - similar to the one he used as Archbishop of Buenos Aires - with symbols representing Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Symbols of the papacy have been added behind it, including two keys which signify the Biblical passage in which Jesus told St. Peter he would give him "the keys of the kingdom" of heaven.
The motto on his coat of arms is "Miserando atque eligendo" (Having had mercy, he called him), which comes from a meditation by the Venerable Bede, an English monk in the 8th century, on a passage of the Gospel in which Jesus calls St. Matthew to be an apostle.