Pope Francis surprised his own master of ceremonies on Friday by confessing his sins to an ordinary priest in St. Peter's Basilica.
The pope was presiding at a service intended to show the importance he attaches to the sacrament of reconciliation, commonly known as confession.
After reading a sermon, he was to have gone to an empty confessional booth to hear confessions from ordinary faithful as some 60 priests scattered around the huge church did the same.
His master of ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini, pointed him toward the empty booth but the pope went straight to a another one, knelt before a surprised priest, and confessed to him for a few minutes.
He then went back to the empty one and heard the confessions of a number of faithful.
The pope goes to confession regularly but in private.
- / AFP - Getty Images
This handout picture released on March 28, 2014 by the Vatican press office shows Pope Francis during a confession as part of a penitential mass at St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.
First published March 28 2014, 2:43 PM