A VIDEO of Pope Francis repeatedly flinching and pulling his hand away as Catholic followers attempt to kiss his papal ring has gone viral.
In the footage widely circulated online, the Pope can be seen shaking hands with several people who have lined up to greet him.
Each time, they bow their heads to greet the head of the Catholic church and attempt to kiss his right hand.
However, every time Pope Francis can be seen awkwardly flinching and moving his hand away.
His actions have divided Catholics. The episcopal ring is supposed to symbolise the unbreakable unity between the bishop and his spouse, the Church.
The gesture of kissing the episcopal ring or the baciamano as it is known in Italian, serves as a reminder to the bishop of his promises to his people and their loyalty.
Traditionally speaking, the kissing of the papal ring is seen as a mark of respect, with Pope Francis’s attempts at shunning these actions appearing disrespectful.
There could be a reasonable explanation behind his actions though.
Pope Francis has been keen to distance himself from traditional concepts of the Catholic church in the past though with gestures of reverence viewed as outdated and against the modernity he strives for. That could go some way to explaining his actions
The video was recorded at the Holy House of Loreto, one of Italy’s most popular religious shrines, on Monday, March 25th.
It’s a site held in high regard by some Catholics, who believe it to have once been the house of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The Pope’s visit to Loreto also coincided with the Feast of the Annunciation, or Lady Day, which marks the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary in the Bible.
During the visit Pope Francis said mass, comforted sick people, and signed a paper he had previously written on the role of young people in the Catholic church.