There is no question that Pope Francis has captured the imagination of Catholics and non-Catholics alike. With his humble, straight forward ways, the new Holy Father is breaching barriers with other religions and seemingly inviting those who have been previously disenfranchised into the Church.
His Holiness raised eyebrows when he said “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” This was more in tune with what Jesus preached, rather than marginalizing a person for being “different.”
But what is it about Pope Francis that makes him such a fascinating personality? It’s not only that he is the leader of billions of Catholics, but the fact that he seems to be such a “normal” person, much more than any of his predecessors, especially the very distant Benedict XVI.
By now it is widely known that Pope Francis is a huge soccer (football) fan — as is any good native Argentine –, that he used to cook his own meals, ride the bus and metro, and speaks several languages. However here are 10 facts that you may or may not know about the Holy Father.
HIS SENSE OF HUMOR – Perhaps it’s the fact that in the internet age we are much more in tune with a leader like Pope Francis or perhaps his true personality shines through anything, this Holy Father can have a good laugh, easily. When he was elected to be the successor of St. Peter he reportedly told the College of Cardinals, “May God forgive you for what you have done.”
HE’S A FAN OF THE HOBBIT AND THE LORD OF THE RINGS – We don’t know if Pope Francis got a special screening of Peter Jackson’ The Hobbit trilogy, but we are told the Pontiff is a huge fan of J.R.R Tolkien’s novels. According to Tolkien Brasil he often quotes Frodo and Bilbo Baggins as heroes walking the path between good and evil, and quoted the author during a speech to Argentinian teachers in 2008.
HE ONLY HAS ONE LUNG – A little known fact is that Pope Francis has survived with only one lung since he was a young boy, after suffering from an infection. This doesn’t seem to have given the Holy Father any problems.
HE IS VERY SMART – Not that anybody doubted this, but Pope Francis is a very smart man. According to Lists25 he taught literature, philosophy, psychology, and theology at several high schools in Argentina in the 60s. Not only that, His Holiness has a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires.
HIS ACTS REMIND PEOPLE OF SCENES IN THE BIBLE – Remember when Pope Francis comforted and held a severely disfigured man in his arms? Scenes such as that one are indelible in followers’ minds and they are reminded of acts Jesus himself performed while on Earth, as told in the Bible.
HE LIVES HIS CHOSEN NAME – St. Francis is known for his humility and that is the main reason Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose the name Francisco I when he was elected Pope. The Pontiff is also known for his concern for the poor and for living a less formal Papacy.
HE PROMISED TO BECOME A PRIEST AT AGE 12 – The rumor is that young Jorge was in love with a neighbor when he was 12-years-old and allegedly told her, “If I don’t marry you, I’m going to be a priest.”
HE IS THE FIRST NON-EUROPEAN POPE IN 1,200 YEARS – Gregory III of what we now know as Syria was the last non-European elected as Pope in 731. Francis is also the first Holy Father hailing from South America.
HE REFUSED TO LIVE IN PAPAL APARTMENTS – After his election to the Chair of St. Peter, Pope Francis refused to move into the lavish Papal apartments in the Vatican. Instead he took the much more modest guest house, where he receives visitors and has official meetings. Francis also declined to use the Popemobile — an adapted Mercedes Benz — in favor of a 30-year-old Renault 4 with 186,000 miles.
HE IS A LEGAL CITIZEN OF THREE COUNTRIES – Pope Francis was born in Argentina and still holds his passport from his native country. However, he is also an official resident of the Vatican — which is considered a country — and Italy because of his parents.
There is no question that Pope Francis has established himself as a “rock star” sort of personality for millions, independent from religious beliefs, age or background and he will continue to bring us some more fascinating facts in years to come.
What is your opinion of Pope Francis?