Surprised bishop meets pope at breakfast

Francis sends blessings to earthquake-hit region of Italy

Surprised bishop meets pope at breakfast

Carpi, April 9 - A bishop from the earthquake-stricken province of Modena in central Italy said Tuesday he was surprised to find himself having an informal chat at breakfast recently with Pope Francis. Francesco Cavina, a bishop from the town of Carpi near Modena, says last Sunday he was staying at the Vatican's St Martha's House, a guesthouse outside St Peter's, when Francis strolled up and introduced himself over breakfast. "I was sitting quietly when the pope approached with great naturalness," said Cavina, adding he felt "very, very excited" to meet Francis, elected pontiff less than one month ago. Apparently the pope, seeing a bishop he hadn't before met, asked around and learned Cavina came from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, which was devastated last spring by an earthquake that killed 24 people. The June 2012 earthquakes also left thousands homeless and brought the region's economy to its knees, with the damage estimated at around five billion euros. Cavina said the pope wanted to hear about reconstruction projects in the region and asked him to give his blessings to the people living there. Francis continues to reside in the guesthouse, which is open to bishops and priests passing through Rome as well as those working in the Vatican. He has lived there since cardinals from around the world descended on the Vatican in March to elect a successor to Benedict XVI, and there are no immediate plans for him to move into the papal apartments. "I was struck by the incredible simplicity of the bishop of Rome, his natural approach" and manner, said Cavina.

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