Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected our new pope Wednesday, but it never would have happened if his stubborn ex-girlfriend would have just agreed to marry him.
It’s a pretty cute story, actually.
Amalia Damonte grew up in the same Flores neighborhood of Buenos Aires as Bergoglio when the two were just 12-years-old. The Argentinian woman says that Bergoglio was so in love with her, he swore that if she would not marry him, he’d join the priesthood.
Now, the two are 76-years-old, and it seems to be pretty obvious what Damonte’s answer was.
“He had a crush on me, you know. We used to play on the streets here. It was a quiet neighborhood then, and, well, he was very nice.”
She continued, saying that Bergoglio “is a good man, the son of a working-class family,” adding, “I hope he can achieve all the good that he holds in his heart.”
Damonte said she was stunned when she saw Bergoglio elected pope on her TV set. “I froze in front of the television. I couldn’t believe that Jorge was the Pope!”
In a 2010 interview, Bergoglio (now Pope Francis I) admitted that he’d had at least one girlfriend before joining the priesthood. “She was one of a group of friends with whom I used to go dancing with,” he said. “Then I discovered my religious vocation.”
It isn’t clear whether the girlfriend he was talking about was Damonte.
Bergoglio took religious orders in 1958 when he was 21-years-old, but was not ordained until 1969. He became a priest at 32, almost a decade after losing a lung to respiratory illness and quitting his chemistry studies.
From there, he became a leader in the local Jesuit community for four years, from 1973 to 1979.
Damonte still lives near Bergoglio’s childhood home. “He said that if I didn’t say yes, he would have to become a priest. Luckily for him, I said no!” she joked.
Are you surprised that the pope has an ex-girlfriend? Here’s the best video we could find of Damonte, we’ll update if we get a better one.