VATICAN CITY — In his first morning as supreme pontiff and leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, Pope Francis visited the ancient Roman basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary, slipping in a side entrance and praying for a half an hour.
The 8 a.m. stop at Italy’s largest basilica (3 a.m. Eastern) was not a surprise. Minutes after his quick election on the second day of deliberation inside the conclave, Francis asked his fellow cardinals if they would wait until later Thursday to return to the Sistine Chapel with him for a special Mass.
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Dolan talked at length about how Francis eschewed a motorcade for a minibus after being elected (”And as the last bus pulls up, guess who gets off?” Dolan said, “It’s Pope Francis. I guess he told the driver, ‘that’s ok, I’ll just go with the boys’ ”), and how he asked the cardinals to skip a post-election prayer because he didn’t want to keep the throngs of well-wishers in St. Peter’s Square waiting in the rain.