Francis' appeal echoed his gesture on that rainy night one year ago when he came out onto the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and introduced himself to the world. Rather than impart a blessing on the crowd below,
Francis asked first for a "favor," asking the crowd to bless him.
Francis has continued to ask for prayers, ending nearly each appearance with a similar request.
Pope marks first year in office with quiet prayer
Pope Francis has marked the first anniversary of his election in prayer and quiet contemplation of the meaning of Lent, far from the adoring crowds and controversies of Rome.
In keeping with Francis’s tendency to eschew much of the pomp and ceremony associated with his role, the anniversary was not marked in any official way, with the exception of a solitary tweet from the official Pontifex account.
‘‘Please pray for me,’’ the 77-year-old wrote to his 12 million followers in nine languages, echoing an appeal he made in his first address to followers from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica exactly one year ago.
Francis was spending the day on a pre-Easter spiritual retreat in the Castelli Romani, a picturesque area on the south-eastern outskirts of Rome.
He left the Vatican on Sunday after his weekly blessing and will return on Saturday.
More than anything, the Pope’s first year in office has been marked by his apparently sincere determination to maintain the kind of simple lifestyle the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio has had throughout his career as a priest.
The pontiff lives simply in a three-room apartment rather than a papal palace. The golden cross and red cape of his predecessor have been left unworn and he is reported to regularly phone an 80-year-old widow who recently lost her son. ‘‘She is happy and I get to be a priest,’’ he said of those calls.
Twitter was awash on Thursday with commentary on the anniversary, well-wishers hugely outnumbering detractors.
‘‘What a year it has been,’’ tweeted Irish priest Rory Coyle while the Washington Post hailed: ‘‘A triumphant 1st year.’’