March 17, 2013 / 4:32 PM / 6 years ago

Pope tests his security detail by wading into crowd

Pope Francis I (R) conducts a mass in Santa Anna church inside the Vatican, in a picture released by Osservatore Romano at the March 17, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis gave his security detail a taste of his new papal style on Sunday by stepping outside a Vatican gate to greet a boisterous crowd of well-wishers.

The pope said Sunday morning Mass in the small church of Santa Anna, just a few feet inside the gate of the same name, for Vatican workers who frequent it as their parish.

He arrived in a black car, again shunning the papal limousine, and immediately went over to hundreds of people who had gathered at the gate to get a glimpse of him.

He greeted people and kissed children, and several times, as more people reached out, smiled and pointed to the plastic watch on his wrist to signal that he had to go inside to say Mass.

After the service, still wearing his purple liturgical vestments, he stood outside the church like a simple parish priest and greeted each person as they came out.

Before driving away, he again went back to the gate to wave, to the obvious discomfort of his security detail.

He was then whisked back to the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace to deliver his noon address and blessing from the window of his apartment to an overflowing crowd of more than 150,000 people in St. Peter’s Square.

Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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