Perhaps the most dramatic Christmas Day example of the "Francis effect" came not in the Vatican but across town, in a Roman detention center for poor and undocumented immigrants. A four-day hunger strike, which featured angry Muslims from Morocco and Tunisia sewing their mouths shut, was suspended because the protestors were persuaded that Francis could "make us heard."

The immigrants had refused to eat and were sleeping outdoors despite freezing temperatures, but they accepted an offer to suspend the protest in exchange for a promise from Italian Fr. Emanuele Giannone, who runs the local branch of the Catholic charity Caritas, to carry a letter from them to Pope Francis describing their lives and explaining their demands.

The migrants said they accepted the offer because they regard this pope, who took the name of the "saint of the poor," as someone who truly understands their plight.

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