A surprise visitor to St. Peter’s Square during the general audience yesterday was met with a warm welcome. A “Saint Nicholas” in full costume came all the way from Germany to offer some holiday cheer. Wolfgang Georg Kimmig-Liebe is the man who brought the well-known saint to life. And this is not the first time he visited the Vatican — in 2007, he received a blessing from then-Pope Benedict XVI. For the past 30 years, Kimmig-Liebe has dressed up each Christmas season as the fourth-century bishop with the recognizable red robe, crosier, yellow miter and long white beard. He travels throughout the world visiting hospitals, schools and markets, where he is received with joy. At the beginning of this year, he even visited a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey. In a post on his Facebook account, Kimmig-Liebe published a Christmas message: “My mission is simply the best, I meet people who love peace and life. The Christmas Spirit has begun and is already everywhere...I would really be pleased if in this time we would treat each other with respect and that we would experience a beautiful Christmas Octave.” Despite possible similarities, Kimmig-Liebe clarified that he is not Santa Claus. “I have nothing to do with that guy,” he said in an interview with Wolfgang Duschl, head of the bishop’s communications office in Passau, Bavaria. “The phrase ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ is not part of my vocabulary. A bishop and a saint expresses himself more intelligently than that.”
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