Francis opts for informal front-door encounter with residents in hill town outside Rome


CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy — For a day, Pope Francis has abandoned his traditional Sunday greeting at the Vatican, opting for an informal front-door encounter in a hill town outside Rome which hosts the papal summer residence.

Unlike his predecessors, Francis isn’t staying in Castel Gandolfo for the summer, but came for the day. Usually when in Castel Gandolfo, pontiffs appear at a window overlooking an inner courtyard or on a balcony facing the town’s main square. This time, Francis spoke to people at their level, standing outside the main entrance, chatting and bending down to kiss babies in strollers.

He joked that he would like to give a cake to help residents celebrate the feast day Monday of the area’s patron saint but didn’t know if such a huge cake could be baked.