Musical hymns and throngs of people welcomed Pope Francis to his first papal visit to pay homage to the Immaculate Conception in Rome's Spanish Steps.
Almost immediately the personable Pope began greeting people. As he walked, an elderly woman threw Pope Francis a white rose. He immediately picked it up and headed towards her. The Pope greeted several sick and elderly people before making his way to the main square.
During the ceremony, Pope Francis opted for a prayer to Our Lady, rather than speech. He prayed for Her intercession on behalf of the sick the poor, and the elderly.
"Help us continue listening closely to the voice of the Lord:
That the cries of the poor never leave us feeling indifferent,
That the suffering of the sick and of those in need will never find us distracted,
That the solitude of the elderly and the frailness of children move us,
That each human life, for all of us, will be loved and venerated.”
Following the brief ceremony, the Pope dedicated even more time greeting some of the very people he prayed for.
Among hugs and kisses, people showered the Pope with gifts ranging from letters to roses. At one point a wheelchair bound woman was moved to tears, as the Pope comforted her.
Once he finished greeting people, the Pope headed to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where he prayed before Rome's Patroness. It was his sixth visit to papal Basilica since his election.