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Bill de Blasio welcomes Pope Francis to New York -- in Italian

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Sen. Chuck Schumer and

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Sen. Chuck Schumer and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio greet Pope Francis as he arrives at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan on Sept. 24, 2015. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had a brief exchange in Italian with Pope Francis before Thursday night's service at St. Patrick's Cathedral -- seemingly catching the pontiff off guard with his language choice.

De Blasio said Friday morning on the "The Joe Piscopo Show" on AM-970 The Answer that he greeted the pope by saying, "Benvenuto, Santo Padre," which translates as "Welcome, Holy Father."

The mayor said the pope responded by asking how someone who spoke Italian became mayor of a great city like New York.

The mayor replied that New York was a city of immigrants, and the pope's voice was the most important in the world for immigrants.

De Blasio said in another radio interview that Francis is "inspiring."

"He is such a warm person, such a kind person," de Blasio said in an interview on WCBS 880. "You can tell in just a few words, this is extraordinary person."

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