Rome's heat wave is dragging into its third week, so Pope Francis was especially appreciative of the tens of thousands of Romans and tourists who braved the noontime sun to see him.

Speaking Sunday from his window, Francis told the crowd in St. Peter's Square: "I see you are courageous with this heat in the square. A tip of the hat to you!"

Many of the faithful were using sun umbrellas.

Temperatures in Rome this week could hit 38-39C (100-102F). Sizzling heat and oppressive humidity have gripped Italy this month, with some nights in Rome seeing "low" temperatures hovering near 30C (86F). Hundreds of elderly have called a hotline seeking heat survival advice.

Francis escaped Rome's heat earlier this month with a trip to South America, where it is winter.