Francis kisses 'mini-me' pope as Carnival starts - New York News

Francis kisses 'mini-me' pope as Carnival starts

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Paola Ciabattini smiles to her 19-month-old son Daniele De Sanctis, dressed up as a pope, during Pope Francis' weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Paola Ciabattini smiles to her 19-month-old son Daniele De Sanctis, dressed up as a pope, during Pope Francis' weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has a mini-me.

Daniele De Sanctis, 19 months, made a star turn as he showed off this year's must-have Carnival costume at the pope's general audience: white cassock and cape, white skullcap and even a miniature pectoral cross.

Daniele wailed as he was hoisted up to receive a papal kiss as Francis drove by. But he seemed perfectly happy romping through the closed-off sections of St. Peter's Square, with his papal outfit getting him VIP treatment from the Swiss Guards.

His mother, Paola Ciabattini, said one of Daniele's grandmothers had made the costume, inspired after the boy used a hand towel as a cape after washing his hands.

"It was a gesture of love toward the Holy Father," Ciabattini told The Associated Press. "We certainly didn't intend to make fun of him or the church in any way."

During Carnival in Italy, children often go out after school and spend their weekends dressed up in pirate, princess — and now pope — costumes. Carnival, also known as mardi gras, marks the period before the church's solemn Lenten season begins.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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