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04 October 2017 | by Christopher Lamb

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The chairs inside Bologna’s vast San Petronio Basilica normally used for Mass had been cleared away and replaced with dozens of tables laid out in preparation for hundreds of lunch guests. Those invited were not the great and the good but refugees, the homeless, prisoners and those unable to afford a restaurant bill. Pope Francis took his place at a table a few steps away from the altar, chatting, laughing and posing for a selfie. Everyone was served lasagne, turkey breast – tacchino alla bolognese – and fruit. 

“To society, you are on the margins,” Francis told fellow lunch guests sitting inside Europe’s sixth largest church.





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