April 2013: Discovering the new Pope
Pope Francis kicked off his first full month as Pope by honoring one of his predecessors. On April 2, he prayed before the tomb of John Paul II at St. Peter's Basilica, on the anniversary of his death.
The Pope also prayed before the tombs of John XXIII and Pius X. Interestingly, next April, Pope Francis will canonize both John Paul II and John XXIII.
A week later and 26 days after his election, Pope Francis celebrated his Installation Mass as the Bishop of Rome. Thousands of people waited to see him outside the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the official see for the Diocese of Rome.
During the homily, the Pope started talking about one of the main topics of his pontificate: mercy.
POPE FRANCIS (April 8)
"In my personal life, I've seen the merciful face of God and His patience so many times. I've also seen many people who courageously go to Jesus' wounds and say: 'Lord, here I am. Accept my poverty. Cover my sins with your wounds, clean them with your blood.' I've seen how God welcome them, consoles them, cleans them and loves them.â?
After the Mass, he opened the papal rooms at the Basilica, which had been closed since Benedict XVI stepped down.
Over the next few weeks, the world would begin to discover the Pope's unique personality. The passionate soccer fan greeted his favorite soccer team after a general audience.
"...And to the group form the Athletic Club of San Lorenzo of Almagro, from Buenos Aires. That is very important.â?
The next day, he traded his papal hat with an American couple after speaking to the Papal Foundation.
Halfway through the month, Pope Francis took the time to greet Benedict XVI on his special day. He called him at Castel Gandolfo and celebrated Mass in his honor.
POPE FRANCIS (April 16)
"Today is the birthday of Benedict XVI. We offer this Mass in prayer for him, so that the Lord can be with him, comfort him and console him.â?
Benedict XVI turned 86. It was his first birthday as Pope emeritus.
Another highlight from this month that showed off the Pope's personality was this tight embrace with Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, at the Vatican.
But it wasn't his only audience with world leaders. He also met with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, as well as the executives from Mozambique, Spain, Madagascar, Italy and Israel.
In fact, it was the latter, President Shimon Peres, that invited Pope Francis to visit the Holy Land in 2014.
"I am waiting for you in Jerusalem, and not just me, but all the people from Israel.â?
It was the first of several invitations Pope Francis would receive from political and religious leaders in the region. As the 2013 comes to an end, the possibility he'll take up that invitation is looking more likely.