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Francis kisses 'mini-me' pope as children in Carnival costumes flock to Vatican

Pope Francis kisses a child named Daniele, last name not available, dressed as a Pope, as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. The child, who was crying, was hoisted up to Francis as he drove by in his open-topped jeep. Another child dressed in a similar white cassock and white skullcap was also on hand as were kids dressed as Swiss Guards. During Carnival in Italy, children often go to 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. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

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Pope Francis kisses a child named Daniele, last name not available, dressed as a Pope, as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. The child, who was crying, was hoisted up to Francis as he drove by in his open-topped jeep. Another child dressed in a similar white cassock and white skullcap was also on hand as were kids dressed as Swiss Guards. During Carnival in Italy, children often go to 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. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis has a mini-me.

Daniele De Sanctis, 19 months, made a star turn Wednesday 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.

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