In a ceremony characterized by more simplicity than usual, Pope Francis took possession of the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, on April 7, the Second Sunday of Easter and the Feast of Divine Mercy.

As usual, entering the basilica, Pope Francis greeted disabled people and the faithful.

During the Mass, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the vicar of Rome, read a profession of obedience to the Pope on behalf of the diocese.

After the celebration of the evening Mass, the Holy Father waved to the faithful from the central balcony of St. John Lateran Basilica, one of the four major papal basilicas in Rome.

Before Pope Francis entered the basilica, there was another ceremony: the pontiff renamed a small section of the square outside of the basilica, formerly called “Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano.” Now this part of the square, in front of the General Vicariate of Rome, is dedicated to Blessed John Paul II, who died on April 2, 2005, on the eve of the Feast of Divine Mercy established by the Polish Pope.

In the presence of Cardinal Agostino Vallini and Gianni Alemanno, the mayor of Rome, Pope Francis unveiled a plaque with the new name of the square.

The following week, the Bishop of Rome celebrated Mass at the tomb of St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, taking possession of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

Pope Francis was welcomed by the archpriest of the basilica, Cardinal James Harvey, who said, “All those who make up the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls rejoice in welcoming the new Bishop of Rome at this solemn moment,” adding that “it is from the faith of the two apostles and martyrs, Peter and Paul, called ‘the pillars of the Church,’ that the Church of Rome traces her origins.”

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