Pope Francis, The Ultimate Cafeteria Catholic, Eats Alongside Vatican Employees
Vatican workers received an unlikely dining companion on Friday when Pope Francis decided to eat lunch at the Vatican cafeteria, continuing his reign as Coolest Pope Ever and giving a whole new meaning to the term "Cafeteria Catholic." According to Vatican Radio, the pontiff's choice of dining was a complete surprise, described as "a thunderbolt out of the blue." It was even more of a shock when the pontiff sat down at a random table and ate alongside Vatican employees. Of course, no one turned Francis down when he asked to sit with them.
And don't worry, Francis didn't get any special treatment at the Vatican canteen: He grabbed a cafeteria tray and cutlery, then waited in line with the rest of the employees. When it was his turn, Francis reportedly chose a lunch of pasta, cod, grilled tomatoes and a few French fries, according to the Catholic News Service. The pontiff then sat at a long table and presumably shared some Vatican gossip with his fellow employees.
After lunch, Francis reportedly met with the Vatican cafeteria chef, Franco Pai'ni, and the rest of the kitchen staff. He gave them a blessing and even took a group photo with them. According to Pai'ni, Francis acted "normally, like the humblest of the workers." He added that the pontiff asked the employees about their work experiences and "paid us compliments."
According to Vatican newspaper L' Osservatore Romano, Francis spent most of his lunchtime at a table with workers from the pharmacy warehouse. After talking about their jobs, Francis reportedly discussed football, the economy and his Italian heritage.
OK, so Francis may have gotten one special perk at the cafeteria: He got his lunch for free. "I didn't have the courage to give him the bill," Claudia Di Giacomo, who was working the cash register, told Vatican Radio.
"Who'd have thought! The pope coming to eat with us?" Pai'ni added. "We were all caught off guard, but it was one of the best things that could happen to you."
In addition to hanging out with the rest of us plebes, Pope Francis had another big announcement this week: He will be making his first trip to the United States in 2015. According to the Catholic News Service, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said Francis will be attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year.
However, the Vatican has yet to confirm the trip, though Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesperson, said on Friday that Francis has discussed "his willingness to participate in the World Meeting of Families." Francis has also expressed his interest in traveling to other U.S. cities, including New York and Washington D.C.
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