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Updated - Pilgrims pray for sunshine ahead of Pope's inauguration

Pope Francis is just one day away from the Vatican inauguration ceremony that will introduce him to the world and officially begin his papacy.

Tomorrow's ceremony in St Peter's square is expected to draw thousands of pilgrims as well as political leaders from across the globe, all of whom will be eager to catch a glimpse of the first South American pope in Church history.

President George Abela, the Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition will all be present, as will Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna. A special charter flight scheduled for early tomorrow morning will fly more Maltese over for the ceremony.

Dignitaries range from Catholic US Vice President Joe Biden and German chancellor Angela Merkel to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has been guaranteed protection from an EU-wide travel ban through a special agreement with Italian authorities.

Leaders of other religious faiths, including Rome's chief rabbi and the Anglican Archbishop of York, will also be in attendance.

In less than a week, Pope Francis has already won over Catholic hearts with his preference for colloquial language and human interaction over papal protocol. Yesterday he snuck away from Vatican security to mingle with members of the public, and his entourage of bodyguards will no doubt be expecting the Pope to depart from tomorrow's ceremonial script at some stage.

Aside from a papal Mass, the ceremony will see Pope Francis receive the pallium - a six-crossed cloak made of lambs wool - from Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the man who announced his election to the world last Wednesday.

He will also receive the ring of the fisherman, one of which is specially cast for each Pope. The ring, which honours the fisherman St Peter, was in the past used to seal papal decrees but is nowadays more ceremonial in function.

Pope Francis' predecessor, the now-retired Benedict XVI, had altered the inauguration ceremony to allow 12 people from diverse backgrounds to pay homage to the papacy. But one of his last acts as pope was to reverse this change, and Pope Francis is expected to receive homage from all the Cardinals present, as is Church custom.

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