Pilgrims always show plenty of love for Pope Francis ahead of the general audience. But on the day before his birthday, they seemed especially affectionate.
However, the best gift came from the Pope himself. He allowed this mother to get close enough to the Popemobile for her son to receive a blessing.
During his catechesis, the Pope explained some of the Jubilee of Mercy's most important symbols. One of them is walking through the Holy Door. It symbolizes when Jesus said in the Gospel that He is the door to salvation. Walking through it, the Pope explained, shows a true desire for conversion. But the Pope also included a warning.
"Be careful. There may be some that are ready to pass through, and a scammer tells them they must pay. Salvation can't be bought. The door is Jesus and Jesus is free.”
The Pope added that another great symbol of the Jubilee is confession, because it allows people to experience divine mercy directly.
Further, he highlighted that a clear demonstration that people have converted is when they love and forgive, especially the worst among them.
"How many times have I told myself the same thing: 'Father, I am not capable of forgiveness.' But how can ask God to forgive us if afterward we are not capable of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a great thing. Forgiveness is not easy, because our heart is poor and with only its strengths we cannot do it. But if we open ourselves and leave ourselves for God to be merciful with us, we can be capable of forgiveness.”
Despite the winter weather and smaller crowd size during this time of year, the Pope still held the audience in St. Peter's Square instead of indoors.