POPE FRANCIS is celebrating his inaugural Mass, formally commencing his pontificate, at the Vatican this morning.
The Mass is the traditional commencement of Francis’ tenure as pontiff.
Heads of state and government from around the world, including Michael D Higgins, are in attendance at this morning’s event.
Also present is the patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, Bartholomew I – the first time that the head of the Greek Church has attended the inauguration of a Roman counterpart since the two churches split.
Francis, previously Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, began the event with a tour of St Peter’s Square to greet the attending faithful, before travelling inside St Peter’s Basilica to venerate the tomb of the apostle after whom the building is named.
The Bishop of Rome is often referred to as having the Petrine ministry, as Peter – the first pope in Catholic tradition – is thought to have been martyred in Rome after travelling there following the death of Jesus.