Pope Francis has officially begun his ministry as the 266th pontiff in an installation Mass simplified to suit his style, but still grand enough to draw princes, presidents, rabbis, muftis and thousands of ordinary people to St Peter's Square to witness the inauguration of the first pope from the New World.
Francis thrilled the crowd at the start of the Mass by taking a long drive about through the sun-drenched piazza and getting out of his vehicle to bless a disabled man. It was a gesture from a man whose short papacy is becoming defined by such spontaneous forays into the crowd and concern for the disadvantaged.
Blue and white flags of Francis's native Argentina fluttered above the crowd, which Italian media estimated could reach one million but appeared to be significantly fewer.
Civil protection crews closed the main streets leading to the square to traffic and set up barricades for nearly a mile (2km) along the route to try to control the masses and allow official delegations through.
Before the Mass began, Francis received the fisherman's ring symbolising the papacy and a wool stole symbolising his role as shepherd of his 1.2-billion strong flock. He also received vows of obedience from a half-dozen cardinals - a potent symbol given that his predecessor, Benedict XVI, is still alive.
Some 132 official delegations attended, including more than half a dozen heads of state from Latin America, a sign of the significance of the election for the region.
Francis, named after the 13th-century friar known for his care of the most disadvantaged, has made clear he wants his pontificate to be focused on the poor, a message which has resonance in a poverty-stricken region that is home to 40% of the world's Catholics.
Among the religious VIPs attending is the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Bartholomew I, who became the first patriarch from the Istanbul-based church to attend a papal investiture since the two branches of Christianity split nearly 1,000 years ago.
Also attending for the first time was the chief rabbi of Rome. Their presence underscores the broad hopes for ecumenical and interfaith dialogue in this new papacy given Francis's own work for improved relations and his namesake St Francis of Assisi.
In a gesture to Christians in the East, the pope prayed with Eastern rite Catholic patriarchs and archbishops before the tomb of St Peter at the start of the Mass and the Gospel was chanted in Greek rather than the traditional Latin.