Caught: Pope congratulates reporter who saw him leaving Rome record shop

VATICAN CITY — When you are the pope, it’s difficult to simply pop out of the Vatican to go shopping. Pope Francis found that out Tuesday when a reporter was in the right place at the right time.

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After a journalist reported on the pontiff’s surprise visit to a record shop in Rome, the pope surprised him back with a letter, Reuters reported.

Javier Martínez-Brocal, director of the Rome-based news agency Rome Reports, tweeted a black-and-white photo of Francis exiting the record store, located near the Pantheon, according to the National Catholic Agency.

The pope was visiting the newly renovated Stereo Sound shop to bless it.

The photo went viral, with people asking in tweets, “What did he buy?”

Martinez-Brocal wrote the pope a note afterward, explaining that he was not a paparazzo, according to The Associated Press. While apologizing, the reporter told the pontiff that his story provided some much-needed good news for a world reeling from political, economic and medical woes.

The pope, 85, wrote Martínez-Brocal a letter that was delivered to the reporter on Thursday, congratulating him on his work and noting that it was tough to sneak outside the Vatican, Reuters reported.

“You can’t deny that it was a case of bad luck ... that after taking all the precautions, there was a reporter there at the taxi rank,” Francis said in the letter Martinez-Brocal shared with colleagues on Friday. “One should not lose one’s sense of humor. Thanks for doing your vocation, even if it did put the pope in difficulty.”

The shop owners later told the AP that Francis had arrived unannounced at around 7 p.m.

“He walked in the shop and it was an amazing meeting. And as he promised, he blessed the shop,” shop owner Tiziana Esposito said.

Co-owner Danilo Genio said Francis was a longtime customer who visited when was in Rome for meetings at the Vatican when he was a priest, archbishop and then cardinal.

“When he came to Rome to go to the Vatican he used to come here first to buy some gifts,” Genio told the AP.

Francis was known for taking public transportation in his native Argentina when he was still Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the AP reported. He was elected pope in 2013.

The Pope was gifted a CD of classical music, according to the AP.

His music library, curated by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, holds nearly 2,000 CDs and 19 vinyl records, Catholic News Service reported. The recordings include music from the pope’s personal collection, as well as music the pope has received as gifts.

The pope enjoys listening to opera on the radio and likes tango, Mozart and Wagner, the AP reported.