Pope Francis is the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, a title he holds ex officio as Bishop of Rome, and Sovereign of the Vatican City. Bergoglio was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969 and from 1973 to 1979 was Argentina’s provincial superior of the Society of Jesus. He became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was created a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. The name of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was little known outside of his homeland in the days before the resignation of Pope Benedict. Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February 2013, cardinals gathered to vote for his successor in the Sistine Chapel and many names were being paraded but few expected the next pope to be the humble Jesuit. Surprisingly the papal conclave elected Bergoglio as his successor on 13 March.
No one would actually say that he or she have never heard about Pope Francis, but there are several other lesser known facts that will interest you more about the holy father. Read on to know more about the world catholic priest.
1. Birth and Real Name
Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, on 17 December 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was the eldest of five children of Mario José Bergoglio, an Italian immigrant accountant, and his wife Regina María Sívori, a housewife of northern Italian (Piedmontese-Genoese) origin.
2. Known for Extraordinary Humility and Liberality
Pope Francis is acclaimed the most humble and liberal priest in the history of catholic church. From the beginning of his papacy, Francis has sought to make the Church more humble and available to all walks of society. The following are some among many of the vivid instances where the pope exhibited his humble nature:
- Francis chose not to live in the official papal residence in the Apostolic Palace, but to remain in Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guest house in which he can receive visitors and hold meetings. He is the first pope since Pope Pius X to live outside the papal apartments. Pope Francis still appears at the window of the Apostolic Palace for the Sunday Angelus.
- He preferred simpler vestments without ornamentation, and also refuses the traditional papal mozzetta cape upon his election, choosing silver instead of gold for his piscatory ring, and keeping the same pectoral cross he had when he was cardinal.
- Bergoglio made it his custom to celebrate the Holy Thursday ritual washing of feet in places such as jails, hospitals, retirement homes or slums.
- After Pope JP2 got shot, they tried to keep the Pope safe by constructing the PopeMobile, but Francis waved it aside. On the night of his election, he took the bus back to his hotel with the cardinals, rather than be driven in the papal car.
- When elected Pope, he chose not to wear the custom red shoes made for him, rather, he chose to continue wearing his old, worn-out black shoes from Buenos Aires.
- As a cardinal with access to the renowned Archbishop chef, Francis chose to cook his own meals in his small apartment in downtown Buenos Aires.
- As the Pope, he made a surprising visit to the Vatican cafeteria to eat with local workers.
3. Francis is the Pope of Many Firsts.
He is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere and the first non-European pontiff in nearly 1,300 years after the Syrian Gregory III in 741.
4. Pope Francis’ Jobs Before Papacy
He studied philosophy at the Catholic University of Buenos Aires and also has a master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires, after which he got at Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory where he served as a chemical technologist in the foods section. Before joining the Jesuits, Bergoglio worked as a bar bouncer and as a janitor sweeping floors, and he also ran tests in a chemical laboratory. In subsequent years, the pope was a teacher of literature, psychology, philosophy and theology at Immaculate Conception College in Santa Fé and at the Colegio del Salvatore in Buenos Aires, respectively before becoming the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
5. Health Crisis
At the age of 21, Bergoglio suffered from life-threatening pneumonia and three cysts. He had part of a lung excised shortly afterwards. This however has not affected the papa’s health significantly as he has been enjoying a general good state of health.
6. Youthful Desires Before Priesthood
Bergoglio fell in love with a girl in his neighborhood when he was still very young and would love to marry her if he didn’t succeed in becoming a priest. The experience made him to briefly doubt his ability to go ahead with his priestly career. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, on his way to propose to the girl he loved. He passed by a church to go to confession and something that turned around his life happened to him. He recalls his experience in the following statement:
Something strange happened to me in that confession. I don’t know what it was, but it changed my life. … It was the surprise, the astonishment of a chance encounter. I realized that they were waiting for me…From that moment on God is the One who te primerea–‘springs it on you.’ You want to find him, but He finds you first.”
He also said he loves to tango and actually had a girlfriend back in his youth whom he danced with then.
7. He Emphasized Mercy and Care for the Poor
At his inaugural mass he called for the Church to defend the weak and protect the environment, and throughout his public life, Pope Francis has been noted for his emphasis on God’s mercy and concern for the poor. This could be traced back to his episcopal motto “Miserando atque eligendo” which he drew from Saint Bede’s homily on Matthew 9:9–13: “because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him”, as well as his choice of papal name, Francis which he chose in honor of St. Francis of Assisi because he is a lover of the poor.
Some of his major kind gestures were: He celebrated one of his birthdays by donating 400 sleeping bags to d homeless in Rome, he sneaks out on some occasions to visit the homeless at night, he gave up the gift of a Harley-Davidson’d motorcycle and leather jacket worth about 327, 000 USD for charity.
8. He Loves Family so much and Supports Marriage even when it Involved Priests
In the year 2000, Bergoglio was the only church official to reconcile with Jerónimo Podestá, a former bishop who had been suspended as a priest after opposing the Argentine Revolution military dictatorship in 1972. He defended Podestá’s wife from Vatican attacks on their marriage.
9. The First Priest to Openly Say that all Could be Saved, Catholic or Not
In May 2013, Francis said that all who do good can be redeemed through Jesus, including atheists. Francis stated that God “has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! … Even the atheists, Everyone!
10. He is a Passionate Supporter of San Lorenzo Football Club and a Basketball Fan
Pope Francis has been a lifelong supporter of San Lorenzo de Almagro football club, one of the biggest soccer clubs in Argentina. He is also a bigtime basketball fan, and was given a customized jersey by the Boston Celtics.
11. He is Multlingual
He speaks Italian, German and Spanish fluently, in addition to a smattering of English, French and Portuguese. He can also speak a bit of the Piedmontaise dialect too.
12. Public Honours
In 2013, American news magazine the Time named Pope Francis the Person of the Year, a prestigious title given to the one who “has done the most to influence the events of the year”. The pope graced the cover of the rolling stone magazine on 27 January, 2014. He is one of the top nominees for this year’s(2015) Nobel Peace Prize.
- His favourite painting is The White Crucifixion, painted by Marc Chagall in 1938. The painting shows Jesus being crucified on the cross, wearing a prayer shawl as a symbol that he is Jewish. The painting originally showed a soldier with a swastika on his armband burning down a synagogue.
- His favorite saint is Saint Theresa of Lisieux.
- His favorite person is his grandmother, Rosa.
- His favorite place is his home, and that’s why he dreads traveling when he was still a priest in Buenos Aires.
- Bergoglio is also a fan of the films of Tita Merello, neorealism, and tango dancing, with an “intense fondness” for the traditional music of Argentina and Uruguay known as the milonga.
14. He is a Pronounced Climate Change Activist
In June 2015, Pope Francis released an encyclical on global care called Laudato si’ on climate change, care for the environment, and sustainable development, seen as an important step toward inspiring meaningful climate action by people of faith and religious leaders.
15. Full Papal Title
The official style of the Pope in English is His Holiness Pope Francis; in Latin, Franciscus, Episcopus Romae. Holy Father is another honorific often used for popes. His full title, which is rarely used, is:
“His Holiness Francis, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the servants of God.”
Pope Frances often freezes whenever he has an unexpected experience. He said it happens to him like he was ‘paralyzed’.