The pope was running late.

For seven excruciating minutes, thousands of gatherers on Sunday in St Peter's Square in Vatican City were anxiously waiting for Pope Francis to show up for his weekly address, which usually starts, like clockwork, exactly at noon. Questions and worries that something may be seriously amiss made many onlookers fret.

But finally, the window of the Apostolic Palace swung open and a smiling 82-year-old pontiff sent relief across the crowd.

What explained the delay? The pope had been trapped in an elevator, an unfazed pontiff told the gatherers.

"I must apologize for the delay," said Francis, explaining that there was a drop of voltage in the elevator, causing it to stop.

Francis told the crowd he had been trapped in the elevator for 25 minutes, but intervention from firefighters — whether divine or not — saved the day.

"Thank God the Fire Brigade came," Francis said. "Let's hear it for the Fire Brigade!"

The pontiff then moved to his usual prayers and blessings. He ended his remarks by announcing that 13 church figures had been elevated to cardinals.

The Vatican did not clarify whether the pope was alone in the malfunctioning elevator, or if any of his aides were by his side when Francis was stuck.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit