Pope Benedict held the second of two ceremonies Saturday for the installation of 15 new cardinals of the Catholic Church. After receiving their red hats, on Saturday they were given the rings, symbols of their high office.
For the second day running, Saint Peter's Square was filled with friends and family members of the new cardinals and pilgrims wanting to celebrate them in their new appointments. Pope Benedict appeared in resplendent gold and white vestments and addressed those gathered.
"For me it is a source of great joy to preside at this con-celebration with the new cardinals after yesterday's consistory," said the pope. The added that it was a great gift to conduct this evocative celebration on the day the church celebrates the Lord's Annunciation.
The 15 new "princes" of the church come from 11 countries. They include the archbishops of Caracas in Venezuela, Manila in the Philippines, Seoul in South Korea and Toledo in Spain.
The oldest new cardinal at 87, Peter Poreku Dery, was a leader of the pan-African Bishops' Conference and an opponent of family planning programs in his native Ghana.
In his homily, Pope Benedict recalled that it is just one year ago since the pontificate of his predecessor Pope John Paul II entered its final phase, full of suffering and yet triumphant.
The new cardinals, also dressed in gold and white vestments and red skullcaps, kneeled before the pope and were handed their rings, a symbol of loyalty to their vocation and union with the Catholic Church and the pope.
"The ring, which I confer upon you today, proper to the dignity of cardinals, is intended to confirm and strengthen your commitment to watch over the Holy Church," said Pope Benedict.
Pope Benedict has a busy schedule ahead next month. On the 3rd, a special mass will be held to remember Pope John Paul II, and on the 9th, Holy Week ceremonies will begin with Palm Sunday and culminating on Easter Sunday.