The Vatican hosted 2,000 homeless people, refugees and prisoners at the Rony Roller circus on Thursday afternoon, where medics were also on hand to give free check-ups to those who needed it.
The show was opened by a Spanish singer-songwriter who used to be homeless himself. He dedicated the song to Pope Francis and described it as "an opening prayer and expression of gratitude to the Holy Father for this new act of closeness to each one of them."
Pope Francis mentioned the circus in an address a year ago, and implied his desire to share its beauty with others.
"People who perform in the circus create beauty, they are creators of beauty. And this is good for the soul. And we are so much in need of beauty!" he said in January last year.
A statement released yesterday by the Apostolic Almoner's office confirmed that "a group of homeless people, refugees, prisoners and people living in poverty" had attended the show in Rome.
Circus performers "with perseverance, commitment and many sacrifices are able to create and give beauty to themselves and to others," the statement added.
"The gift... may encourage our poorest brethren to overcome the hardships of life, which often seem overwhelming and insurmountable."
On site, doctors and nurses from the Vatican Health Services gave free medical check-ups.