In their first overseas trip in three years, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, met Thursday with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Without a canonization ceremony, Pope Francis declared three new saints for the Americas, pioneers of the Catholic church in Brazil and in Canada.
Pope Francis signed decrees Thursday recognizing: St. Jose de Anchieta, a Spanish-born Jesuit who traveled to Brazil in 1553 and became known as the Apostle of Brazil; St. Marie de l'Incarnation, a French Ursuline who traveled to Quebec in 1639 and is known as the mother of the Canadian church; and St. Francois de Laval, who arrived in Quebec 20 years after St. Marie de l'Incarnation and became the first bishop of Quebec.
Through the sacrament of matrimony, married couples are called to be living icons of God's love in the world, Pope Francis said; and when they fight -- and all couples do -- they don't have "to call the United Nations," but find simple words and gestures to say they are sorry.
Concluding a series of talks about the sacraments, Pope Francis used his general audience Wednesday to focus on marriage, and he asked the estimated 45,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray for the world's families, especially for couples experiencing difficulty.
While millions of pilgrims are expected to attend the Catholic church's first double canonization at the end of April, the Vatican is preparing its most ambitious TV and social media campaign for the millions who don't make it to Rome.
City officials are expecting more than 5 million people to attend the ceremony when Pope Francis declares his predecessors Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII saints in St. Peter's Square on April 27.
Pope Francis called together the heads of all Vatican offices to discuss how they could integrate into their work the teaching of his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium ("The Joy of the Gospel").
The Vatican said the meeting, held Tuesday inside the Apostolic Palace, lasted two and a half hours.
Pope Francis confirmed the head of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and named among its new members Australian Cardinal George Pell, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, and Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis.
The Vatican announced Saturday that the pope confirmed Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz as prefect of the congregation, the Vatican office that oversees the world's religious orders.
Vatican security officers stopped two men -- one American and one Dutch -- trying to enter the Vatican bank with a briefcase full of fake bonds.
Officers with the Vatican gendarme corps intercepted the two men Saturday when the men approached a guarded entrance and asked to be let into the Vatican bank, known formally as the Institute for the Works of Religion.
According to Vatican Radio, the men did not have Vatican bank accounts and they did not have an appointment with anyone at the bank.
Pope Francis met Friday in a closed-door meeting with the German churchman known as "Bishop Bling," Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, whose extravagant and expensive lifestyle cost him his job.
Tebartz-van Elst, 54, spent more than $40 million of church money renovating his home in Limburg, Germany. He became a worldwide phenomenon, in part because his lifestyle clashed so sharply with that of Francis, known for living in spartan and humble surroundings and for preaching restraint and austerity.
God is not stingy with his love and mercy; he is generous and forgiving, patiently waiting for his children who have sinned to come home, Pope Francis said.
God is the father described in the parable of the prodigal son, "a father who always waits for us, who always forgives us and who celebrates when we return," the pope said in his homily Friday during an early morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
The world's bishops, priests and deacons need people's prayers and encouragement to continually deepen their relationship with Jesus and serve their community with love, Pope Francis said.
A minister of God who does not nourish his love for Christ, his church and his flock "inevitably ends up losing sight and an authentic sense of his service and the joy that comes from a deep communion with Jesus," he said.