Vatican City (Reuters) - Pope Francis marked the first anniversary of his election as head of the Roman Catholic Church on Thursday with a tweet from his retreat.
“Pray for me,” Francis tweeted on his English account @pontifex. If you are a Latin lover, the literary kind, it was “Orate pro me”.
The pope tweets in nine languages, including Latin and Arabic, and has more than 12 million followers.
As tributes poured in and rivers of words were written about him, Francis did not hear or see any of them.
He and his top aides are spending the week on a spiritual retreat in the relatively simple building of a religious institution in the town of Ariccia, in the Alban Hills about 15 miles away from the Vatican’s frescoed halls.
“Today the pope is not doing anything special or different from other days. He is praying,” Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters one year to the day after the surprise election of former Buenos Aires Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
Francis, 77, went down to the center on a bus with the officials in an atmosphere similar to a school outing. The Vatican said they would be returning the same way on Friday.
It is the first time in living memory that the pope has held a retreat outside the Vatican and is the latest example of Pope Francis instilling more simplicity in the Vatican.
He has already given up the spacious papal apartments for a suite in a guest house and uses a Ford Focus instead of the papal limousine. His knack for memorable off-the-cuff comments has spawned lists of his best quotes over the past year.
Francis, the first Jesuit pope, is carrying on a tradition of his religious order to hold spiritual retreats away from peoples’ usual place of work in order to inspire detachment and contemplation.
Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Tom Heneghan