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Pope Benedict XVI strokesa lion cub as he greets circus artists and workers, during an audience he held in the Pope Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. Benedict clapped and watched amused as circus workers flipped, flopped, juggled and twisted before him in what the Vatican has called a historic audience to make street performers and other itinerant entertainers feel like they belong to the church. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope greets circus performers at Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI

greeted thousands of clowns, acrobats, puppeteers and even a pair of

lion cubs on Dec. 1 as the circus came to town for an unusual papal