Two doves owe their freedom, including a soaring flight over St. Peter's Square, to Pope Francis.

As he toured the square in his open-topped popemobile at his Wednesday audience with the public, someone at the edge of the crowd thrust a white bird cage with two doves inside at him. Looking puzzled, his security detail took the cage and handed it to Francis.

Without hesitation, the pope opened the cage door, thrust a hand inside, extracted one dove and sent it to fly over the square.

Francis struggled to remove the other bird, whose feathers got caught in the cage bars. It sat for a while on his hand, before it too flew off.