04/24/2005, 00.00
VATICAN

St Peter crowded with 500,000 people for Benedict XVI's installation mass

First solemn mass for Benedict XVI. More than 140 delegations and 500,000 faithful present.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Benedict XVI's solemn installation mass is celebrated today in St Peter's at 10 am.

More than 140 foreign delegations with 36 heads of state and government came and 500,000 faithful crowded the square coming especially from Germany, Italy and Poland. The square was decorated with 20,000 flowers and the faithful waved flags of all the nations. At the end of the religious function the Pope should to do a walkabout in the crowd. Imposing security measures were taken for the event.

The ceremony began with a tribute by the new Pope and the Eastern Patriarchs to the tomb of Peter. This is done to underline the continuity between the Bishop of Rome and the martyrdom of Peter and Paul: tomorrow in fact the Pope will go to the Basilica of St Paul, co-founder of the Church of Rome.

The mass is celebrated in the square. The service is co-celebrated by Benedict XVI and 150 cardinals. The new Pontiff receives today in a solemn manner the pallium—a stole in lamb wool as a symbol of metropolitan bishops—on which are embroidered the coat of arms of the new pontificate and Peter throwing the nets. The pallium will be imposed on the Pope by the protodeacon cardinal, Jorge Medina Estevez, whilst the ring will be given to the Bishop of Rome by the dean of the College of Cardinals, Card Angelo Sodano.

Some novelties in the liturgies: instead of the cardinals, 12 people will kneel before Benedict XVI representing the entire people of God: three Cardinals head of orders, a bishop, a priest, a deacon, two men religious, two married people and two christened boys from Sri Lanka and Congo.

After the pontificate of Paul VI, today's liturgy is the first one with a precise theological and pastoral configuration. For John Paul I and II there were two ceremonies which Mgr Valenziano, consultor of the Office of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, called "substitutive".

There was a strong presence from Asia during the liturgy. Cardinal Kim, Archbishop Emeritus of Seoul, took part in placing the pallium since he is a presbyter cardinal. The prelate recited part of the Canon during the Eucharistic prayer.

Among the intentions, one was recited by a Chinese nun. The woman religious prayed saying these words: "For those who suffer, for those who struggle lost in life: Christ, supreme pastor, refresh and console them, give them the crown of glory".

A Chinese family was also present during the offertorial procession.

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