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Pope Francis gets stuck in elevator for 25 minutes, is rescued by firemen

Pope Francis apologized to crowds in St. Peter's Square for being late on Sept. 1, after firefighters had to free him from an elevator in the Vatican (Video: Reuters)
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ROME — Pope Francis, like most in the Vatican, keeps to his schedule. On trips abroad, he is punctual. On Sundays, when he delivers the Angelus for followers in St. Peter’s Square, he begins uniformly at noon.

But this Sunday, the pontiff was late.

When Francis finally poked his head out of a window from the apostolic palace — the building overlooking the square where the pope gives his weekly address — he quickly apologized for his tardiness and offered an explanation: He had been stuck in an elevator.

“I had an unexpected event,” Francis said. “I was stuck in an elevator for 25 minutes.”

The pope said a “drop in voltage” had caused the elevator problem. He did not say whether he had been alone.

“Thank God the fire department came — I thank them so much,” the pope continued. “After 25 minutes of work, they managed to get it working.

“A round of applause for the firefighters!”

Francis did not appear to be bothered by the incident. He is 82, and aside from some hip and joint pain, has had a relatively healthy papacy while cramming in a busy travel schedule by papal standards. He departs Wednesday for a one-week trip through Africa that includes stops in Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius.

Francis also announced Sunday that he was planning to elevate 13 figures to the rank of cardinal, including 10 who are under 80 years old and thus eligible to vote in the conclave that will one day select his successor. Following the trend under Francis, some of the new cardinals will represent countries from the periphery of the Catholic world, including Cuba and Indonesia. No Americans are among the group, and there is only one Italian, Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna.

Perhaps the most notable name on the list was the Rev. Michael Czerny, the Vatican’s undersecretary for migrants and refugees, who has acted as a point person for Francis on one of the pope’s signature issues.

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