It seems Pope Francis enjoys the fun of magic as much of the rest of us when the Golden Circus performing troupe entertained him at the Vatican.
Performing at the end of the Pope's weekly address yesterday, the Golden Circus performers levitated tables, created balloon shapes and even presented the pontiff with a white cockatoo.
A Swiss Guard standing nearby provided security but was left largely redundant as Pope Francis enjoyed the spectacle in the Paul VI Hall. At one stage, the disbelieving Pope even checked under the levitating table for hints of how the magic was performed.
The festival atmosphere was aided by a performing jazz band as well as jugglers, dancers and clowns.
The Pope later smiled and applauded as the cockatoo lifted its talon and waved goodbye to the crowds. The Golden Circus is a regular visitor to the Vatican during the two-week run of the circus festival which is taking place in Rome until January 8.
At his traditional Christmas greeting on December 25, the Pope called for peace in war-torn parts of the world such as Syria, Israel and Palestine.
"This message goes out to the ends of the earth to reach all peoples, especially those scarred by war and harsh conflicts that seem stronger than the yearning for peace," he said.
Pope Francis will visit Ireland in August 2018 - the first time a papal visit will be made since Pope John Paul II came in 1979.