The Pope is the Bishop of Rome and the head of the catholic church. He is considered to represent Christ on earth. The present Pope is called Francis (real name: Jorge Mario Bergoglio) and has managed in a rather short time to make himself far more popular than his predecessor used to be.
Every Sunday at noon, if he is in Rome, Francis blesses the crowd present on Saint Peter’s Square from the window of his study. This window is the second one on the right of the top floor of the Apostolic Palace next to Saint Peter’s Basilica itself. In August the Pope is hardly ever in Rome.
On special days like Christmas and Easter the Pope holds a speech and performs the Urbi et Orbi blessing, after which he wishes everybody present happy holidays in a record-breaking number of languages.
Every Wednesday (except when this Wednesday happens to coincide with a holiday) the Papal Audience takes place.
Since in the past the Popes were almost exclusively chosen from Italy’s wealthiest families and since their elections meant that they would have to show off this wealth, the Popes have often been responsible for many of the works of art inside churches if not for the construction of the churches themselves. This was the case until 1870, when Italy became a state and the influence of the Pope, at least on secular life, diminished greatly.