Pope Francis leads his Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican
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Pope Francis leads his Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican on December 26, 2016

Pope pays tribute to Iraqi Christians persecuted by Islamic State

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Francis paid tribute to Middle East Christians who have clung to their faith during persecution by Islamist militants, saying there are more Christians martyrs now than in the Church’s early days.

Pope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter's Square on Tuesday (March 19) at the Vatican. RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini

Photo Gallery: Pope Francis celebrates inaugural Mass

Today Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Vatican. Francis was slowly driven around a sun-drenched St. Peter’s Square in an open-top car, shunning the bulletproof, air-conditioned popemobile preferred by his predecessors. At one point, he asked to stop the car and got out to bless a disabled person.