Pope Francis departed from his prepared speech and left the Popemobile to pose for selfies at Palm Sunday's mass. His papacy has been described as simplistic and informal, and the Holy Week began as candidly.
Pope Francis led a crowd of celebraters into St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on April 13, blessing their olive branches and palm fronds along the way. The procession symbolizes Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem after raising Lazarus from the grave, and marks the beginning of the Holy Week. Worshipers laid palm branches and cloaks at Jesus' feet as he entered the holy city.
After the reading of scriptures, Pope Francis delivered an improvised sermon, asking the assemblage to contemplate the people involved in Jesus' betrayal and death.
"Has my life fallen asleep?" Pope Francis asked, referencing Jesus' disciples who slept instead of keeping watch and praying.
"Am I like Pontius Pilate, who, when he sees the situation is difficult, washes my hands?
"Where is my heart?" Pope Francis continued. "Who among these people am I like? This question will remain with us all week."
After the ceremony, he entered the crowd to pose for large, group 'selfies' with the many youth in attendance. The Pope also accepted a drink of mate, a traditional Argentinian beverage, and blessed babies.
Several news outlets noted that Pope Francis appeared "tired and solemn" during his address, but energized after the ceremony.
On Holy Thursday, the Pope will wash and kiss the feet of the elderly, as Jesus washed his disciples' feet. Easter Mass will be held on Sunday, April 20th in St. Peter's Square. On April 27th, Pope Francis will canonize the late Pope John Paul II, and the late Pope John XXIII.