During last week's general audience, members of the circus gave a special performance for Pope Francis, saying the exciting encounter was an opportunity to show how the circus can bring "harmony."

"This has been my first time to perform in front of the Pope and it was truly a great thrill," ringmaster Andrea Andreuzzi expressed in a Jan. 10 interview with CNA.

"For me it was a joy to both take my pony in front of the Pope," Andreuzzi noted, "but overall I was very moved hearing his words when he said 'you artists, you circus artists, give joy and serenity to the world, and the world is in need of joy and serenity.'"

"In that moment I felt proud of being a circus artist and I will continue to be proud."

Members of the Golden Circus in Rome, who are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, gathered in St. Peter's Square for the pontiff's weekly general audience on Jan. 8, performing special selections from their current show, which ran from Dec. 21, 2013 until Jan. 12, 2014, and will re-open again next the fall.

Andreuzzi explained that while he was not able to do the acts he normally does with larger horses in the circus ring, he was able to do a smaller presentation on the same acts with a diminutive pony.

Also performing for the Pope was Rogerio Piva, a Brazilian youth who originally joined the circus as part of a special program initiated by the government to get kids off the streets.

Piva, who displayed his talents in juggling, explained that his first audiences were those on the streets of Brazil, but that after being spotted by a large circus, he was hired and has traveled "around America and now here in Europe."

When asked how it felt to perform in front of the Pope, Piva stated that "I don't know if I was more scared of the cold, of the Pope or of the thousands of people that were behind me. So I didn't want to think about anything," and just performed.

"For me," Piva noted, circus performing "was always a street art, performing even at traffic lights. I was always at the street and now I was in front of the Pope. And he was giving me his attention."

"He was looking at me, showing to the world that the circus has a space and should be respected, that the circus is an art that can change lives."

The circus, he emphasized, is "an art of love, an art of sharing, an art that goes beyond our hearts for a message of peace, joy and harmony between families, artists and the whole society," adding that this performance "was the most thrilling moment of my life as an artist."

Piva also remarked that during their performances, "people look at us not just as performers but as part of an art that revolutionizes the world with love, with smiles, with joy," observing that "this is the power that people today of the twenty-first century have forgotten."

Circus director Liana Orfei, echoing the words of her performers, told CNA on Jan. 10 that performing for the Holy Father "has been a great thrill."

"When this Pope received us in Saint Peter's," she said, "it was so great and important that I felt I had wings and I was flying and flying in paradise."

Orfei, whose family has been in the circus business for 270 years, has personally met five Popes, "from Pope John, Paul the Sixth, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis."

Speaking of Pope Francis, Andreuzzi explained his opinion that "Pope Francis is a good Pope, as several Popes in the past, and he is very fair."

"I saw that all the people that were at Saint Peter's Square believed a lot in his words and in everything," he recalled, "so I think that little by little, the Church will regain a lot of power."