The papal almoner, an archbishop who distributes charitable aid from Pope Francis, planned a special afternoon for about 150 homeless people: a walk through the Vatican Gardens, a visit to the Vatican Museums, private time in the Sistine Chapel and dinner in the museums' cafeteria.
At the end of Pope Francis' spontaneity-filled meeting with priests, seminarians and religious in the cathedral of Naples, the vial of dried blood of the city's patron saint appeared to miraculously liquefy.
After Pope Francis blessed the congregation with the reliquary holding the vial, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples announced, "As a sign that St. Januarius loves the pope, who is Neapolitan like us, the blood is already half liquefied."
The future of humanity depends on safeguarding and sharing potable water around the world, Pope Francis said.
Pope Francis has erected a diocese in northern Mexico, located along the border of Arizona.
The diocese of Nogales is in the northern part of Sonora state and includes territory from the archdiocese of Hermosillo, Mexico, the Vatican announced Thursday.
The pope appointed Bishop Jose Leopoldo Gonzalez Gonzalez, 60, to head the new diocese. He had been auxiliary bishop of the Guadalajara archdiocese.
Having so much world-famous art housed in Rome's churches and chapels has risked turning the city's sacred spaces into sightseer circuses.
Pope Francis came out squarely against the death penalty once again, calling it "unacceptable" regardless of the seriousness of the crime of the condemned.
Pope Francis met with a three-person delegation of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty on Friday and issued a letter on the occasion urging worldwide abolition.
Citing his previous messages against the death penalty, the pope called capital punishment "cruel, inhumane and degrading" and said it "does not bring justice to the victims, but only foments revenge."
Scotland Cardinal Keith O'Brien will no longer exercise the role of a cardinal, including by serving as a papal adviser and as an elector of a new pope.
The canonization ceremony for Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, is likely to take place during the synod on the family in October.
One month after saying that couples who choose not to have children are making a "selfish choice," Pope Francis said societies with low birthrates are "sad and gray."
"Who are you who shuts the door of your heart to a man, a woman who wants to improve ... because the Holy Spirit has stirred his or her heart?"