The crowd jammed Saint Peter’s square and greeted their new Holy Father with an ecstatic roar of Viva il Papa! And the Papa they welcomed, Pope Francis I, welcomed them as their new Bishop and like any good priest, invited them to pray to “the Father who blesses us and the Blessed Virgin who cares for us.” Then a quarter of a million people in the square were joined by the whole world in praying with their chief shepherd and finally receiving his blessing.
The first Pope named Francis, took the name of the greatest reformer in the history of the Church. Saint Francis, who taught us simplicity and love are the only true reflections of the face of God, Saint Francis who prayed “where there is hatred, let me bring your love, where there is injury, your pardon.”
Much will be said of Pope Francis I in the coming days, this first Jesuit Pope, this first Latin American Pope. But nothing so profoundly expressed who he is and who God has called him to be for us as when he asked the world to pray for him in silence, and then bowed down that we might ask God’s blessings upon him.
In every age, God gives us the shepherds we need, each reflecting the Good Shepherd in different ways. How blessed we are to be the flock who will be loved by Francis I, Pope and Bishop of Rome.