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Francis to pray at tomb of Peter, first pope, in visit to Vatican necropolis

Pope Francis will pray at the tomb of St. Peter, the church's first pontiff, during a visit to the necropolis under St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

The Vatican said Francis will go into the vast excavation later Monday, a post-Easter holiday at the Holy See.

The new pope's time in the necropolis will be private, but the Vatican promised to release photos and videos of the visit.

The basilica was built at the spot where early Christians gathered to pray at an unmarked tomb believed to be that of Peter, the man Jesus chose to lead the church.

Earlier Monday, Francis made an appearance from a window of the papal apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square, greeting and waving to thousands of cheering well-wishers.