The Pope has broken another point of Vatican protocol by bowing when he met Queen Rania of Jordan. As head of state at the Vatican, not to mention the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, protocol requires visitors to bow to him when they meet him at the Holy See.
But Francis, who has made the forgetting of formalities a trademark of his papacy, bowed when he met a smiling Queen Rania as she visited the Vatican with King Abdullah II.
"Up until the 19th century, visitors would kiss the pope's shoes, and the tradition is still that all visitors, women included, bow to him, but Francis behaves as he did before he became Pope and is not interested in protocol," a senior Vatican official said.
It is not the first time the Pope has eschewed formality when receiving visitors. When Cristina Kirchner, Argentina's president, met him in March, he gave her a kiss after she presented him with a gourd for mate, the traditional Argentine tea. Brazil's first female president, Dilma Rousseff, took the initiative when she met the Pope in July, kissing him on both cheeks.
The Pope's bow was just the latest in a series of signs that he has no time for ceremony. On Wednesday he showed up in central Rome for a religious ceremony in an unmarked Ford, without the papal flag or number plate, driven by a Vatican gendarme. He entered the church carrying his folded mitre tucked under one arm.
The Pope is reportedly preparing to replace Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the influential secretary of state who has been in office since 2006 and has been criticised for favouritism.
Two possible replacements named by Italian media are Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Vatican envoy to Venezuela, and Giuseppe Bertello, the head of the Vatican City governorate.