In a move that was described as "bold" and even "noteworthy" by some, Pope Francis has stunned a congregation by confessing his sins to an “ordinary” priest in full view of St. Peter's Basilica.
The Pontiff was presiding at a service intended to show the importance he attaches to the sacrament of reconciliation, commonly known as confession, when he shunned yet another papal tradition.
His master of ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini, pointed him toward the empty booth but Francis was having none of it.
Instead, he went straight to another one, knelt before a rather surprised priest, and confessed to him for a few minutes.
The people's Pope lived up to his name by then going back to the empty one and hearing the confessions of a number of faithful, pretending as if nothing had happened.
The pontiff has always seemed keen to appear as ordinary as possible, which has only served to make him more famous and earned him another nickname - 'SuperPope'.
In his efforts to fit in with the masses he has taken selfies with teenagers, got his own passport allowing him to travel as a regular citizen, informed the world that he too is a sinner, and rode (relatively) unprotected in his Popemobile.
In pictures: 'The many popes of Pope Francis'
In pictures: 'The many popes of Pope Francis'
1/12 The Pro-Gay Pope
In just a year, Pope Francis has managed to change the public perception of the Catholic Church, and the stance it takes on civil issues, like gay rights. Despite originally protesting the legalisation of gay marriage in his native Argentina some years ago, he told reporters this year: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?”
2/12 The Rebel Pope
No other Pope has urged a shake-up of the Catholic Church quite like Pope Francis, a true rebel of the dioceses. Who, incidentally, used to be a night club bouncer.
3/12 The Graffiti Pope
Pope Francis become... SUPER POPE in this Vatican-approved street art. But was he happy with the reference to the fictional DC comic character?"To depict the pope as a sort of superman, a sort of star, seems offensive to me. The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps tranquilly and has friends like everyone else, a normal person," he said. So, that's a no, then.
4/12 The Biker Pope
Yes, the Pope used to own a Harley Davidson. And yes, he auctioned it off this year and donated the proceeds to a charity that feeds the hungry in Rome. Very Papal.
5/12 The ‘Blue’ Pope
Dropping the 'F' bomb during Sunday service? Classic Pope Francis. Sadly, down to a Spanish-speaking slip of the Italian language rather than pure bad-assery.
6/12 The ‘Because I’m Worth It’ Pope
That awkward moment when your Papal hat blows off, forcing your barnet into Sesame Street-like spikes. Pope Francis has been there.
7/12 The Chocolate Pope
Imagine the Pope's delight (horror?) when he was presented with a giant chocolate replica of himself outside the Vatican by by students on a chocolatier course at the Accademia of Maestri Cioccolatieri, near Venice.
8/12 The Rock Star pope
The one and only religious leader ever to grace the cover of Rolling Stone magazine? Introducing... Pope Francis.
9/12 The People’s Pope
His U-turn attitude towards sexuality won him Time magazine's coveted Person of the Year accolade, and the cover of gay rights magazine The Advocate.
10/12 The Merchandise Pope
Thongs, mugs, onesies, earrings and even a baby mobile adorned with decapitated Pope heads, the 'Francis Effect' has seen sales of Papal merchandise soar by 200% over the last year.
11/12 The Fashion Pope
The only Pope, as far as we're aware, to be compared to fashion royalty (Karl Lagerfeld. Yes way.) and win Esquire's Most Stylish Man of 2013 award, too.
12/12 The Modern Pope
Let it be said, Pope Francis knows a thing or two about social media. He might be a way off 'doing a Dalai' and opting for Instagram, but he's not above posing for the odd 'Selfie' on Twitter.
He even said no to the luxurious papal apartments and opted instead for a modest two-bed, heavily in contrast to the so-called Bishop of Bling who treated himself to a £176,000 ornamental fish tank to compliment his £26 million residence.
Perhaps his most astonishing moment of behaving like a normal human being thus far was choosing to stay in a hostel before being elected as Pope, a graffiti-covered place he (shock horror) carried his own bag out of, after insisting on paying his own bill.
"Depicting the pope as a sort of superman, a sort of star, is offensive to me," he said recently.
"The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps well and has friends like everyone else; a normal person."
These comments came shortly after he was crowned Time's Person of the Year and graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.Reuse content