Vatican Radio reports that on Friday, visitors in St. Peter’s Basilica received a big surprise when Pope Francis spontaneously decided to attend the 7:00 a.m. morning Mass at the Altar of St. Pius X. It was the saint’s feast day and accordingt to Msgr. Lucio Bonora, an official of the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Pope Francis has a strong devotion to Pius X.
The Mass was celebrated by Msgr. Bonora, who didn’t know the Pope would be there. When he found it, he asked if he should go back to the sacristy and was told no, to move forward as planned with the Mass:
“When [Pope Francis] saw me, he told me he came to pray because he had already said Mass earlier in the Casa Santa Marta, and he wanted to pay his respects to St. Pius X,” Msgr. Bonora told Vatican Radio.
The pope wanted to remain with the faithful, attend Mass and pray. He also greeted the faithful during the sign of peace.
According to the Associated Press, Pope Francis arrived in the basilica “without an escort and unannounced to pray, then stayed for Mass,” and “when it was time to receive Communion… the pope lined up along with the other faithful.”
“It was very moving for me, and for the faithful, to see the Pope as a humble member of the faithful, going to pray at the tomb of St. Pius X,” the priest said.
Msgr. Bonora said Pope Francis prayed specially for catechists during the Mass, since the feast day serves as the Day of Catechists in Buenos Aires.