VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis receives countless gifts, but most do not require anything in return. However, at his audience with members of the military April 30, the pope received a small gift with a tradition — and obligation — attached.

Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard Spencer of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services gave the pope a military challenge coin with a prayer from St. Francis of Assisi stamped on it.

Spencer, who ministers to U.S. service members in Europe and Asia, explained to the pope — and then to Catholic News Service — the tradition of military challenge coins.

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