Pope pops out of the Vatican, stop to get new glasses

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ROME (AP) -- Pope Francis slipped out of the Vatican Thursday for a personal - and very normal - errand: New glasses.

Francis arrived at dusk at the Ottica Spiezia on swank Via del Babuino in his Ford Focus, accompanied by his bodyguard and some plainclothes police, witness Daniel Soehe said.

Shop owner Alessandro Spiezia told The Associated Press he put new lenses in the pope's existing frames. He said he had made the pope new glasses last year, and that the pope had liked them so much that he asked him to fill a new prescription.

See images of preparations for Pope Francis' U.S. visit:

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Pope pops out of the Vatican, stop to get new glasses
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: A portrait of Pope Franics sits in a window near Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem where Pope Francis is scheduled to visit on September 21, 2015 in New York City. The Pope will be making his first trip to the United States on a three-city, five-day tour that will begin in Washington on September 22, then travel to New York City and Philadelphia. The Pope will depart on September 27. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A man buys a souvenir medal with a picture of Pope Francis at a machine inside the Saint Patrick Cathedral in New York on August 28, 2015. Pope Francis will visit the US on September 22-27, stopping in Washington, DC, New York, and Philadelphia. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Rosaries with the image of Pope Francis are selling at the Catholic University of America, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, gift shop on September 3, 2015, prior to the visit to of the Pope on September 23, 2015. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
A man shows a medal he bought with a picture of Pope Francis from a machine inside the Saint Patrick Cathedral in New York on August 28, 2015. Pope Francis will visit the US on September 22-27, stopping in Washington, DC, New York, and Philadelphia. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
A statue and other items related to Pope Francis are for sale at the gift shop at The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on August 20, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis will be celebrating Mass at the National Shrine on September 23, 2015, where he will canonize Junipero Serra, the Spanish missionary who introduced Christianity to California in the 18th century. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis bobble heads are displayed at a souvenir store in Washington, DC on August 27, 2015. Pope Francis will travel to the United States from September 22-27, stopping in Washington, DC, New York, and Philadelphia. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman poses for a photo next to a cut-out figure of Pope Francis at The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on August 20, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis will be celebrating Mass at the National Shrine on September 23, 2015, where he will canonize Junipero Serra, the Spanish missionary who introduced Christianity to California in the 18th century. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Noah Rodriguez, 4th grade, answers questions from a reporter in the gym during a media preview at Our Lady Queen of Angels School on August 20, 2015 in New York. Allison will be among 24 children, who attend Catholic schools in New York, who will meet with Pope Francis during his September 25, 2015 visit to New York. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Allison Reyes-Rodriguez, 3rd grade, answers questions from reporters during a media preview at Our Lady Queen of Angels School on August 20, 2015 in New York. Allison will be among 24 children, who attend Catholic schools in New York, who will meet with Pope Francis during his September 25, 2015 visit to New York. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is seen on August 20, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis will be celebrating Mass at the National Shrine on September 23, 2015, where he will canonize Junipero Serra, the Spanish missionary who introduced Christianity to California in the 18th century. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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"I was supposed to go to the Vatican yesterday to bring them, but the pope told his secretary, `No, I don't want Spiezia to come here, I'll go to Via del Babuino,'" a clearly emotional Spiezia said moments after the pope left with his new prescription filled.

Video obtained by AP showed the pope trying on the new glasses and being fitted by Spiezia and an assistant - a completely normal event rendered completely remarkable because Francis is the pope.

The pope, who spent less than an hour in the tiny shop, was mobbed by an enormous crowd that had gathered outside, grabbing onto his arm as he got into the car for the quick trip back to the Vatican.

Francis has lamented that he can no longer come and go as he pleases: He famously rode public transport in Buenos Aires as archbishop, and has said one of the things he misses most now that he is pope is being able to go out for a pizza.

He does slip out occasionally, however, especially to visit the St. Mary Major basilica, usually on the eve of a foreign trip and upon his return home. But even when Francis renewed his Argentine passport - another mundane errand - the Argentine ambassador to the Holy See came to him, not vice versa.

Soehe, a German tourist visiting Rome with his father, said he was stunned to see the pope in the shop, trying on the glasses, especially after he waited for four hours earlier in the day, in vain, to climb to the top of St. Peter's Basilica.

"There were too many people, and also the president of Israel was visiting and there were so many police officers, so it was too much for us and we went back to the hotel," Soehe told AP.

"I told my father, `Hey, that was better than going to St. Peter's dome: Seeing the pope in a shop trying on new glasses.'"

When Francis isn't using his glasses, he keeps them tucked into his pants pocket, unlike Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI who always handed his eyeglasses off to an aide when he didn't need them.

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Follow Nicole Winfield athttp://www.twitter.com/nwinfield

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