'Thank God the firefighters intervened' - Pope Francis late for prayers after getting stuck in Vatican lift

Pope Francis waves from the window of his studio overlooking St Peter’s Square at the Vatican Credit: Alessandra Tarantino/AP

Pope Francis has apologised for being late to Sunday prayers, revealing he got stuck in the lift on his way.

The head of the Catholic Church said he was stuck for 25 minutes in a Vatican lift and had to be rescued by firefighters.

Francis apologised to the faithful in St Peter’s Square for showing up seven minutes late for his traditional noon appointment - which includes a speech and a blessing - with the public.

Appearing from the window of the Apostolic Palace, the Pope told the crowd: "First of all I must excuse myself for being late.

"I was blocked in an elevator for 25 minutes."

Apparently referring to electrical power, Francis explained that there was a "drop in tension," causing the elevator to get stuck.

"Thank God the firefighters intervened," Francis said, referring to tiny Vatican City State's own fire department.

He then asked for a round of applause for his rescuers, and went ahead with his regular remarks and blessings, concluding with an announcement that he has chosen 13 churchmen to become the Church's newest cardinals.

The Vatican did not say if the pope was alone in the elevator or accompanied by any of his aides.