A 50-year-old woman, whose "miracle" cure from cancer was instrumental in the 2003 papal recognition that the nun has entered heaven, says the Nobel laureate has been more of a god for her for the past 17 years.
Tens of thousands of Roman Catholics backed up for blocks at the Vatican on Tuesday for the strictest security checks in living memory as Pope Francis began a Holy Year with a call to set aside "fear and dread".
In an address at the presidential palace shortly after landing in the capital Bangui, the 78-year-old pontiff called for unity and to avoid "the temptation of fear of others, of the unfamiliar, of what is not part of our ethnic group, our political views or our religious confession."
Pope Francis told Congress on Thursday that the United States should reject a "mindset of hostility" to immigrants, directly addressing a thorny subject that is dividing the country and stirring debate in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Pope Francis met with Fidel Castro on Monday at the Cuban revolutionary leader's home in Havana after an outdoor mass attended by hundreds of thousands of people on the city's iconic Revolution Square.
An adviser to the Vatican's high court has warned that Pope Francis' new reform of the church's marriage annulment process raises serious legal questions and could lead to "crises of conscience" for even happily-married Catholics.