Pope Francis takes a telephone call during the May 17 General Audience. / Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News

Vatican City, May 17, 2023 / 09:18 am (CNA).

To the surprise of the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis briefly interrupted his Wednesday general audience to take a phone call. 

After the pope greeted English-speaking pilgrims at his public audience on May 17, one of his assistants walked over to where Pope Francis was seated and handed him a cellphone. 

The pope spoke quietly on the phone for about one minute while the crowd waited in silence. 

After the phone call, the general audience resumed as usual with a Vatican employee reading the German translation of the pope’s catechesis.

While it is a rare occurrence to see the pope using a cellphone, it is not the first time that he has taken a call during his Wednesday audience. 

This was at least the fourth phone call Pope Francis has taken during a general audience in the last two years. 

Pope Francis answered the phone during general audiences in August and December 2021. He was also spotted speaking on the phone from the popemobile at the beginning of an audience in March. 

Pope Francis at his Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square on March 15, 2023. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Pope Francis at his Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square on March 15, 2023. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

During this week’s audience, the pope shared the story of St. Francis Xavier, who he said is considered “the greatest missionary of modern times.”

“May St. Francis Xavier, who did great things in such poverty and with such courage, give us some of this zeal, this zeal to live the Gospel and proclaim the Gospel,” Pope Francis said.