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Pope Francis waves as he leaves the Shrine of Our Lord of the Miracles after a mid-morning prayer with contemplative nuns, in Lima, Peru, Jan. 21, 2018.
Rodrigo Abd/AP

Pope Francis Just Gave Free Gelato to 3,000 of Rome’s Homeless

In lieu of celebrating his birthday, Pope Francis celebrates his name day; and this year, instead of receiving gifts on his special day, he gave them.

On Monday, St. George’s day, 3,000 gelati were distributed to needy and homeless people on the pope’s behalf, according to the Vatican’s alms-giving office. The sweet treats were distributed through soup kitchens and shelters, mostly run by Catholic charities, throughout Rome.

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Each year, in keeping with papal tradition, the pope — born Jorge Mario Bergoglio — celebrates the feast day of the saint whose name he shares rather than his actual birthday. The head of the Catholic church is known to have a soft spot for dessert and a particular weakness for the Argentinian speciality caramel dulce de leche, according to the Washington Post.

While this is the first year he’s given ice cream to Rome’s needy, it’s not the first time he’s lent a helping hand and taken a stand on the issue of homelessness.

“We can find no social or moral justification, no justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing,” the pope said during a visit in Washington, DC in 2015.

Read more: Amid Protests in US, Pope Francis Urges Young People to 'Shout'

In the past, Pope Francis has provided meals, sleeping bags, and free showers to Rome’s homeless population. He has also held special masses and private tours of the Vatican Museums for them, and invited them to attend the circus as his guests, Reuters reported.

The pontiff has urged others to be similarly generous.

In an interview in 2017, Pope Francis said that giving to those in need “is always right” and encouraged people to give compassionately and without judgement.

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