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Francis celebrates 1st Easter Mass as pope in St. Peter's Square, jammed with joyful faithful

Pope Francis is celebrating his first Easter Sunday Mass as pontiff in St. Peter's Square, which is packed by joyous pilgrims, tourists and Romans.

Francis strode onto the flower-bedecked esplanade in front of St. Peter's Basilica. Tens of thousands of faithful had already filled the square hours before the Mass began in mid-morning. Francis bowed his head in reflection as the Gospel was sung in Latin, recounting what Christians believe is the central mystery of their faith — the resurrection of Jesus after this death by crucifixion.

A white canopy sheltered the altar on the steps. After heavy rain battered Rome during the night, more was forecast. But Sunday saw sunny skies alternate with clouds.

After Mass ends, Francis will give his blessing and speech from the basilica's balcony.