Dove, drink add cheer to pope's general audience

Francis drinks mate, bird pays surprise visit to papal jeep

(ANSA) - Vatican City, December 18 - A surprise visit by a dove and a traditional drink from Pope Francis's Argentine homeland added cheer to the pontiff's last general audience of 2013. As the pope was touring St Peter's Square before the audience a dove released by some of the faithful perched on his jeep. Francis stopped and smiled at the bird for a few moments, pointing it out to the crowd, before continuing his tour. The pope also stopped during the tour of the square after being offered a cup containing mate - a traditional caffeine-rich South American beverage drunk through a straw - by Argentine pilgrims. Wednesday's was the last general audience of the year ahead of a busy schedule of events and services for the pope over the Christmas period.