VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Here’s the scoop: Pope Francis became an ice cream man for a day on Monday as Rome charity workers dished out 3,000 helpings of gelato to the homeless and needy as his gift to them on his name day.
Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio and, in keeping with papal tradition, does not celebrate his birthday, but the feast day of the saint he was named after at birth. Monday is the feast of St. George and a holiday in the Vatican.
The Vatican’s alms-giving office said 3,000 ice creams would be given out in the pope’s name to homeless and needy people who use the shelters, soup kitchens, health facilities and baths for the homeless in Rome, most run by Catholic charities.
Francis has in the past treated Rome’s homeless to private tours of the Vatican Museums and a day at the circus as his guest.
Last year, to mark the Church’s first World Day of the Poor, he said a special Mass for about 7,000 poor people in St. Peter’s Square and then treated them to a gourmet lunch in the Vatican and in pontifical universities in Rome.
Reporting By Philip Pullella, editing by Larry King