I’ve often heard of a farmer praying for good weather, but a cow at mass, that’s a new one to me.

Pope Francis invited Italian farmers protesting in Rome last Sunday to mass in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican, along with their cow and tractor.

Their symbolic protest cow is Ercolina II, progeny of the original Ercolina who was a central figure in the Italian farmers’ protests against EU milk quotas in the late 1990s.

In return for the invitation, the farmers said they would give the pope a tractor.

I hope the machine in question is in good nick, in case Pope Francis plans on ploughing a bit of ground himself.