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May 19, 2:27 PM EDT

Pope strikes again with cold-call visits to bless homes

AP Photo
AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

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VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The cold-call pope has struck again, with Pope Francis surprising a dozen families with an afternoon visit to their homes to perform an annual springtime blessing.

Francis played the role of parish priest Friday as he rang apartment buzzers in Ostia, a beach community on Rome's outskirts, and blessed homes of residents.

The ritual is a post-Easter tradition in Italy, with priests posting notices on buildings announcing the dates and times they'll pass by.

The Vatican said the local Ostia priest did so, only Francis showed up instead.

Francis frequently surprises a few lucky souls with surprise visits and phone calls. He even rang Pope Benedict XVI the night he was elected, but no one picked up.

Benedict was watching TV broadcasts of the election and didn't hear the phone ring.

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