During Palm Sunday celebrations in St Peter’s Square Pope Francis broke with protocol by ignoring his prepared homily and speaking unscripted to the gathered crowd.
Later, he left the Popemobile to pose for ‘selfies’ with young people and also sipped tea passed to him from the crowd.
In his homily, Francis called on the faithful, himself included, to look into their own hearts to see how they are living their lives.
After listening to a Gospel account of how Jesus’ disciples fell asleep shortly before he was betrayed by Judas before his crucifixion, the Pope said: “Has my life fallen asleep? Am I like Pontius Pilate, who, when he sees the situation is difficult, washes my hands?”
Pope Francis sounded tired during his 15-minute address, which was part of the Palm Sunday Mass marking the beginning of Holy Week. “Where is my heart?” he added, pinpointing this question as the one “which accompanies us” throughout Holy Week.
After the two-and-a-half-hour ceremony Francis appeared to gain a second wind, taking off his red vestments, chatting with cardinals and posing for ‘selfies’ with young people from Rio de Janeiro who had brought a large cross into the square. Later, he disembarked the Popemobile to pose for more pictures with youngsters from Poland.
During a long tour of St Peter’s Square, the Vatican’s security chief poured herbal tea from a thermos, pushed forward by someone in the crowd, into a mate gourd, a traditional South American cup, passed forward by another well-wisher. The cup was passed to Francis who sipped the tea.
A crowd of more than 100,000 people held olive tree branches, tall palm fronds or palm leaves braided into the shape of crosses that were blessed by Francis at the start of the ceremony.
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