10 Facts About Pope Francis

Pope Francis is our current Pope and is widely popular with the general public, though he has made some waves within the Vatican. He became Pope on March 19th, 2013 after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Francis is the 266th Pope in the Church’s nearly 2,000-year history.

Want to know more about the man behind the Pope? Here are 10 facts about Pope Francis:

The Meaning Behind the Name Francis

Pope Francis was born on the 17th of December, 1936 with the name Jorge Mario Bergoglio but chose the name Francis after Saint Francis of Assisi saying, “some people want to know why I wish to be called Francis. For me, Francis of Assisi is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation.” He is the first Pope to call himself Francis so he will be known as Francis the first should any other future Popes choose the name as well.

Pope Francis is the first non-European Pope in 1277 years

The first Pope in history was Saint Peter who was a disciple of Christ. Since then there have officially been 266 Popes. Of these 266 Popes, there have been 217 Italian Popes, 16 French Popes, 15 from Greece, 6 from Syria, 2 from Africa along with a few more from other countries. However, there has not been a non-European Pope since Pope Gregory III from Syria who died in 741 A.D. Pope Francis is also the first Pope from Argentina.

Pope Francis and his popularity

Pope Francis was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2013. The last Pope to be given the same honor was Pope John Paul II in 1994. Francis is the only Pope to ever be featured in Rolling Stone magazine and he became the fifth most powerful man out of 74 world leaders on Forbes’s Most Powerful list.

Pope Francis on social media

Pope Francis heads the fastest account ever to reach one million followers on Instagram. He officially joined the platform on March 19th, 2016. It only took the Pope 12 hours to have 1 million followers beating the record held by former footballer, David Beckham. Until Donald Trump’s popularity grew in 2017 Pope Francis had the most followers on Twitter for any world leader. The fact that his Twitter went out in many different languages helped to reach many people around the world. 

Pope Francis before he entered the priesthood

Pope Francis lived an interesting life before he became inspired to join the priesthood. He was one of five children. He was a passionate football supporter and loved his local team, San Lorenzo. Pope Francis graduated as a chemical technician. He was also a bouncer at a Buonas Aires nightclub and a janitor to earn money for school. He even had a girlfriend and reportedly loved to go out dancing with her. However, this came to an end after he had a religious experience during confession at the Basilica of San Jose de Flores. After that confession, he said, “I was not the same, I had heard something like a voice or a calling. I was convinced that I should become a priest”.

Pope Francis the linguist

Pope Francis speaks eight languages, including Spanish, Italian, French, German, Portuguese, Latin, Ukrainian and Piedmontese which is a dialect spoken in a northwestern part of Italy by around two million people. The Pope even went to live in Ireland for a while starting in January 1980 to learn English when he was 43 years old.

Pope Francis almost became Pope in 2005

It could be argued that Pope Francis wasn’t very well known by the general public before he became Pope. However, he was one of the favorites to get the job back in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II. He even got the second-highest number of votes by the cardinals during the conclave. However, Joseph Ratzinger beat him to the race becoming Pope Benedict XVI before her resigned in 2013.

Pope Francis and his hobbies

The Pope has always been a big fan of the tango which originates from his native country, Argentina. He used to love to go dancing the tango with friends in his youth. On his 78th birthday (17 December 2014), thousands of people danced the tango on Saint Peter’s Square to celebrate the Pope’s birthday. Pope Francis also loves to cook his own meals as often as he can and he is an expert at cooking the Spanish dish, Paella.

Pope Francis made a rock album

On the 27th of November, 2015 Pope Francis released a rock album called Wake Up! The album was produced by Don Giulio Neroni and Tony Pagliuca. The album contains words and prayers spoken in many languages set to pop, rock, and classical music with 92% of google reviewers giving the album a thumbs up.  The album is 55:19 minutes long.

Pope Francis and his health

As of 2021, Pope Francis is 84 years old and seems to be in good health. However, he did have the upper part of his right lung removed at the age of 21 after complications from pneumonia which leaves him more vulnerable to illnesses like the flu. It has been reported that despite this his doctor has said that the removal of some missing lung tissue has not significantly affected his health and all going well and he lives another nine years he will become the oldest reigning Pope in history.