The pope chatted individually with each of the homeless guests. four Italians, two Romanians, a Moldovan and a Peruvian at the Vatican hotel where he resides, and shared Argentinian cakes with them before heading to Mass, the Vatican said.
The guests offered the pope a bouquet of sunflowers. They were invited from among those staying around St Peter's Square and at nearby showers for the homeless established by the pope's alms giver.
Speaking to the cardinals, Francis contemplated the aging process, telling them, ``For some days now, I have had in mind a word that seems ugly: Old age, a thought that frightens.'' But then he recalled his words during his first papal greeting in 2013, when he said: ``Old age is the thirst for knowledge.''
He added: ``I hope it will be the same for me.''