You’ve got to take your hat off to this Pope: The moment young child removes pontiff’s skullcap (but doesn’t get to keep it for long)
Children are curious souls – and this one was no exception during an encounter with Pope Francis.
As the pontiff held the youngster in his arms while visiting a medical centre yesterday, the cheeky child took off his white zucchetto, or skullcap, at the Vatican.
For a moment, it looked like the cap-snatcher had an amazing souvenir – but, with a smile, the leader of the Catholic Church retrieved his headwear and returned it to its rightful place.
What’s this white thing on his head? Pope Francis held a child in his arms while visiting the Santa Marta Vatican Institute yesterday
It was the second time that day that the Pope had a surprise.
Earlier, he had received a candle-topped cake from the children, three days ahead of his 77th birthday.
He was presented with the treat after touring the Santa Marta Institute, which provides paediatric care.
For more than 90 years, the centre on the Vatican grounds has been distributing milk, clothing, nappies, toys and even baby carriages to families in need.
Francis blew out the candles, thanked the youngsters for the cake and promised: ‘I’ll tell you later if it’s good or not.’
Pope Francis waves at the end of an audience with beneficiaries and volunteers of the Santa Marta paediatric dispensary
On Wednesday, Pope Francis was named 2013 Person of the Year by Time magazine – edging out NSA whistleblower and fugitive Edward Snowden into second place.
Nancy Gibbs, the magazine’s editor, said: ‘So much of what he has done in the brief nine months in this office changed the tone of what’s coming out of the Vatican.’
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that ‘the Holy Father is not looking to become famous or to receive honours.
‘But if the choice of Person of Year helps spread the message of the gospel – a message of God’s love for everyone – he will certainly be happy about that.’
One particular image captured the humility and grace of the new Pope.
In November, Francis bent down to kiss a man whose entire body has been ravaged by disfiguring growths
The pontiff kissed and prayed with the ailing man who was battling neurofibromatosis – the rare disease said to have affected the Elephant Man.
Patients suffering from the ailment, which is genetic and not contagious, are often shunned by society because of their appearance.
Pope Francis has been widely praised for his common touch and accessibility.
Since being elected to the Holy See earlier this year, he has made headlines around the world by washing the feet of juvenile delinquents, personally calling distraught worshippers on the phone and inviting homeless people to dine at St Peter’s Square