19-March-2013 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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Pope's Cousin: 'He Has Always Asked Us to Pray for Him'

Sister Ana Rosa Participates in Papal Inauguration

By Rocio Lancho Garcia

ROME, March 19, 2013 (Zenit.org) - A cousin of Pope Francis says that he is a humble, austere man, who has always asked for prayer.

Sister Ana Rosa of the Salesian Congregation of Daughters of Mary Help of Christians was in Rome today for Francis' inauguration Mass.

Her father is a cousin of Francis' mother.

Today, Sister Ana Rosa is a missionary in Thailand. "It was 2 o'clock in the morning [in Thailand] when we heard the news [of the Pope's election], and I thought, 'Is it true?' It was overwhelming," she told ZENIT.

The nun spoke of the Holy Father's message of hope and invitation to "work for the neediest, which is the service of the Church. He who has more and can give more should mix with the one who needs more; this is very important."

Sister Ana Rosa described the Pontiff as "a very humble person and very austere. When we are with him, we are as a family. Whenever I go to Buenos Aires from Thailand, I go to visit him."

"Today I was able to speak with him and I was seated next to the altar," she continued. "When the Pope saw me, he said; 'What are you doing here? You came!'"

His sister-in-law has come and 18 nephews and grand-nephews are also in Rome for the celebrations, she reported.

Sister Anna Rosa said that Pope Francis is very much of the family. "Whenever we meet, he always says to me: 'Ana Rosa, pray for me. Ask the elderly sisters also to pray for me.'"

"If he asked for this before, much more does he now; we must pray a lot for him," she declared.

With St. Peter

Hundreds of faithful accompanied Pope Francis today during the Mass marking the beginning of his Petrine ministry, on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph. It is estimated that 150,000 to 200,000 people were in St. Peter's Square and the surrounding streets. The rain stopped, allowing the sun to shine during the whole Eucharistic celebration.

It was a ceremony rich in symbols and gestures, which was accompanied by the emotion of those present. The Pope came to the Square around 8:50 am in an open white jeep and greeted the people gathered for the Eucharist with joyful gestures and a "thumbs up" on several occasions.

At one point a small child was brought to him, whom he kissed tenderly before getting out of the jeep to kiss a sick person who was in the first row behind one of the barriers.

In addition to the faithful in the Square, the Holy Father was also accompanied by representatives of other religions and other Christian communities, and by delegation from 134 countries. Flags from all over the globe and posters of different movements, parishes and groups added color to the Square.

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