Even the pope gets scared sometimes.
Pope Francis got to pet a tiger during the Vatican’s latest celebration for the Jubilee of Mercy on Thursday, but it wasn't all smooth sailing.
Pope Francis was invited by the 6-month-old tiger’s handler to pet the animal as they distracted it with a milk bottle during the Jubilee for Circus and Traveling Show People.
Although Francis was hesitant at first, he soon proved he's indeed deserving of the title “Cool Pope” by stepping down and extending his hand toward the tiger.
The large cub was at first suspicious of the pope and shied away from the contact. Pope Francis was startled by the tiger’s abrupt movement but once again tried to pet the tiger and was rewarded for his efforts.
Mission accomplished, the Holy Father stepped back with a big grin on his face.
The pope also got to hold a tiny black panther in his arms, received a white magician’s hat and was presented with a bird of prey.
Meeting with carnival workers, acrobats, clowns, street performers, musicians and magicians, Pope Francis thanked the performers for brightening people’s day with “healthy entertainment.”
“You cannot imagine what good you do, the good you sow. You enrich society in the whole world with these qualities, also with the ambition to stoke feelings of hope and trust,” the pope told traveling circus. “This is also mercy: sowing beauty and cheerfulness in a world which is at times dark and sad.”
The pontiff also urged the performers to keep practicing their faith despite their constant travels.
“You have a special resource: With your continuous movement, you can bring the love of God to everyone, his embrace and his mercy,” Francis said.