Holy show: Pope Francis draws crowd as he shops for glasses

Optics are good after pontiff has glasses fixed in Rome city centre

Tourists and shoppers in Rome’s central Via del Babuino, just off Piazza del Popolo, got a surprise yesterday when the Pope stepped out of a Ford Focus and into an optician’s shop. Video: Videllaneous

 

Tourists and shoppers in Rome’s central Via del Babuino, just off Piazza del Popolo, got a surprise on Friday evening when a man dressed as the pope stepped out of a Ford Focus in front of an optician’s shop. He looked like Pope Francis, he moved like Pope Francis; indeed he was Pope Francis.

In yet another of those gestures of “normality” which so distinguish his pontificate, the pope had driven the short distance from the Vatican across the Tiber to Via del Babuino to have his glasses fixed.

Rather than send out a messenger or summon an optician to his residence in the Domus Santa Maria, Pope Francis opted to just present himself in the shop, like any other client. Except, of course, that the pope is never just “any other client”.

Spotted

The papal Master of Ceremonies, Argentine Monsignor Guillermo Karcher, told Il Fatto Quotidiano that this was just one expression of the “normality of a man who considers himself like everybody else”.

“The whole thing passed off without problems . . . people greeted the pope warmly and with a lot of enthusiasm . . . and before he got back into his car to return to the Domus Santa Marta, he stopped to say hello and to bless all those who were waiting in the street.”

Pope Francis, who has problems of both long-sightedness and short-sightedness, spent some time with Mr Spiezia. Previously, he had fixed the frame of his glasses for the princely sum of €5 so Francis insisted that, rather than buy a new pair of glasses, he would have new lenses mounted on the existing frame.

When the fitting was over, the pope pulled out some money and paid his bill, in the same way that, on the day after his election as pope, he had returned to the Vatican’s Casa Del Clero residence to pay his pre-Conclave bill.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis often moved around in a normal, unobtrusive way using the city’s metro system to make his rounds. As pope, he clearly does not have the same freedom of movement and to some extent, his liberal use of the telephone is now his way of walking the streets.

The phone, however, cannot compensate for everything. In an interview with Argentine daily, La Voz Del Pueblo, last May, he confessed: “To go out walking the streets. That is what I miss most, the peacefulness of walking the streets or maybe going to a pizzeria to eat a good pizza . . . The city fascinates me. In my soul, I am a citizen.”