World

Pope, in heart of Rome's fanciest shopping district, remembers poor, greets holiday crowds

  • Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Spanish Steps to pray at the statue of the Virgin Mary, in central Rome, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 on the occasion of the Immaculate Conception feast. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Spanish Steps to pray at the statue of the Virgin Mary, in central Rome, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 on the occasion of the Immaculate Conception feast. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis arrives at the Spanish Steps to pray at the statue of the Virgin Mary, in central Rome, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 on the occasion of the Immaculate Conception feast. Francis, in the heart of Rome's poshest shopping district, has prayed that the poor never be forgotten. His appearance at the foot of the Spanish Steps Sunday follows a papal tradition of public prayer before a statue representing Mary on Dec. 8, a church holiday honoring he mother of Jesus. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    Pope Francis arrives at the Spanish Steps to pray at the statue of the Virgin Mary, in central Rome, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 on the occasion of the Immaculate Conception feast. Francis, in the heart of Rome's poshest shopping district, has prayed that the poor never be forgotten. His appearance at the foot of the Spanish Steps Sunday follows a papal tradition of public prayer before a statue representing Mary on Dec. 8, a church holiday honoring he mother of Jesus. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Spanish Steps to pray at the statue of the Virgin Mary, in central Rome, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 on the occasion of the Immaculate Conception feast. Francis, in the heart of Rome's poshest shopping district, has prayed that the poor never be forgotten. His appearance at the foot of the Spanish Steps Sunday follows a papal tradition of public prayer before a statue representing Mary on Dec. 8, a church holiday honoring he mother of Jesus. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Spanish Steps to pray at the statue of the Virgin Mary, in central Rome, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 on the occasion of the Immaculate Conception feast. Francis, in the heart of Rome's poshest shopping district, has prayed that the poor never be forgotten. His appearance at the foot of the Spanish Steps Sunday follows a papal tradition of public prayer before a statue representing Mary on Dec. 8, a church holiday honoring he mother of Jesus. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis, in the heart of Rome's fanciest shopping district, has prayed that the poor are never forgotten.

His appearance Sunday at the foot of the Spanish Steps follows a papal tradition of public prayer before a statue representing Mary on Dec. 8, a church holiday honoring the mother of Jesus.

That date also marks the official start of Rome's Christmas shopping season. Francis' route from the Vatican took him down Via Condotti, which is lined with swank designer stores. He prayed aloud that people "never be left indifferent to the cries of the poor."

Francis wore a white, full-length, double-breasted coat in the chill as he greeted disabled faithful, children and others among the thousands in the square who took a break from window shopping and gift buying.