ROME (CBSMiami) – Pope Francis I began his first morning as the Catholic Church’s new Holy Father by praying Thursday at Rome’s main basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
The former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, entered the basilica through a side entrance just after 8 A.M. local time and left about 30 minutes later.
Following his election on Wednesday, Pope Francis told those gathered in St. Peter’s Square that he planned to pray to the Madonna on Friday so “that she may watch over all of Rome.”
The Vatican said Thursday that Pope Francis planned to visit his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the papal summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo.
“As soon as it is planned, we’ll let you know,” Reverend Federico Lombardi told jouralists Thursday.
Pope Francis spoke with Benedict by phone after his election. Francis was expected to give a private mass with his cardinals in the Sistine Chapel at 5 p.m. and Friday will welcome and address the cardinals in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.
Francis’ official inauguration as the Bishop of Rome will take place in St. Peter’s Square on Saturday.
Father Rodrick Vonhogen, who made the trip to Vatican City from the Netherlands, said the pontiff’s humility came through when he addressed those gathered in the square.
“The first thing he said made such as impression, it’s like pray for me before I give you my blessing, pray for me that God may bless me, what humility,” said Vonhogen.
New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan told CBS4’s Michele Gillen the final moments of the conclave were very emotional.
“First of all, when he reached the vote of 77 and we knew he was the man and then when it was announced again, at the end of the final tally, and then when he said ‘accepto’, yeah that was a great moment,” said Dolan. “I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place.”
Bergoglio, who is known for living a simple life and taking the bus to work, is not only the first pope to take the name Francis, he’s also the first Jesuit to be elected pope and the first pope from the Americas. Francis joked that the cardinals needed to look to the ‘to the end of the Earth’ to find a new pope.
One of the largest questions looming on the minds of Vatican watchers on Thursday morning, is who Francis will pick as his Secretary of State — the number two position at the Vatican.
The position was held under Benedict by the powerful Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Bertone was considered a staunch traditionalist member of the Curia; a defender of the Church’s secretive Rome-based bureaucracy and a man who impeded reform.
Francis’ own background isn’t as a Vatican insider, but instead a member of the Jesuit order. Pope Francis’ conservative views on birth control, homosexuality, and women’s role in the Church have not made him popular with his relatively progressive Jesuit brothers, according to CBSNews.com.
Francis is the first Jesuit pope in Vatican history and the first non-European pope since the Middle Ages. The name Francis was chosen in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who dedicated his life to helping the poor.
The 76-year-old Bergoglio, said to have finished second when Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005, was chosen on just the fifth ballot to replace the first pontiff to resign in 600 years. In the past century, only Benedict, John Paul I in 1978 and Pius XII in 1939 were elected faster.