THE VATICAN
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Catholic Church

When pope eats with staff, it's a free lunch

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 July, 2014, 6:27am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 June, 2016, 12:45pm

Popes: they're just like us!

Pope Francis wandered into the Vatican's employee canteen "like a thunderbolt out of the blue" on Friday after apparently deciding that he'd like to eat lunch alongside the staff.

Francis, Vatican Radio said, waited in line with the rest of the employees for his lunch of pasta, cod and grilled tomatoes.

Canteen chef Franco Paini said the pope sat with Vatican employees, asked them about their work and hung around afterwards to compliment the food and take a few photos.

Except his meal was not exactly identical to theirs: the pope's was free. Cashier Claudia Di Giacomo told the Catholic News Service that when Francis presented his tray with a plate of cod, a bowl of fusilli pasta without sauce, a side of grilled tomatoes and "just a few" French fries, she "didn't have the courage to hand him the bill".

The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano (whose employees, by the way, apparently also eat at this particular canteen), reported that Francis also discussed soccer and the economy with the Vatican pharmacy warehouse workers sitting at his table.

His tip? A papal blessing and photos snapped with diners, Paini said.

Additional reporting by Associated Press