Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is the 266th and current Pope and sovereign of the Vatican City State. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century. Take a look below for 30 more fun and interesting facts about Pope Francis.
1. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentine, Pope Francis worked briefly as a chemical technologist and nightclub bouncer before beginning seminary studies.
2. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969, and from 1973 to 1979 was Argentina’s provincial superior of the Society of Jesus.
3. He became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was created a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.
4. Pope Francis led the Argentine Church during the December 2001 riots in Argentina. The administrations of Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner considered him a political rival.
5. Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on February 28, 2013, a papal conclave elected Bergoglio as his successor on March 13.
6. Bergoglio chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi.
7. Throughout his public life, Pope Francis has been noted for his humility, emphasis on God’s mercy, concern for the poor and commitment to interfaith dialogue.
8. He’s credited with having a less formal approach to the papacy than his predecessors, for instance choosing to reside in the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse rather than in the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace used by his predecessors.
9. Due to both his Jesuit and Ignatian aesthetic, he’s known for favoring simpler vestments void of ornamentation, including refusing 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 as a cardinal.
10. Pope Francis maintains that the Church should be more open and welcoming.
11. He doesn’t support unbridled capitalism, Marxism, or Marxist versions of liberation theology.
12. Pope Francis maintains the traditional views of the Church regarding abortion, marriage, ordination of women, and clerical celibacy.
13. He opposes consumerism, overdevelopment, and supports taking action on climate change, a focus of his papacy with the promulgation of Laudato si’.
14. In international diplomacy, he helped to restore full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.
15. Since the publication of Amoris Iaetitia in 2016, Pope Francis has faced increasingly open criticism from theological conservatives, particularly on the question of admitting civilly divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion.
16. He is unusually multilingual, speaking Spanish, Latin and Italian fluently and understanding German, French, Portuguese, English and Ukrainian.
17. Pope Francis has only one functioning lung. He had a part of his right lung removed in his youth due to an infection, but he appeared to be in good health at 78 years old.
18. As an Argentine, he’s a big fan of tango.
19. He loves soccer and is a proud supporter of San Lorenzo de Almagro Football Club, which is a traditional soccer team from his home neighborhood.
20. Pope Francis likes J.R.R. Tolkien and has read all of his work. He particularly grew fond of Frodo and Bilbo, whom he used as examples of hopeful heroes who are called to walk a path in the unfolding drama between good and evil.
21. In the 1960s, he taught literature, philosophy, psychology and theology at several high schools in Argentina.
22. He embraced and blessed a man covered in tumors and washed the feet of juvenile delinquents, including a Muslim woman.
23. Pope Francis studied philosophy at the Catholic University of Buenos Aires and also has a master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires.
24. He’s a legal citizen of three different countries. Apart from Argentina, where he was born and raised, he’s also a citizen of Italy and the Vatican.
25. At the age of 12, he fell in love with a girl from his neighborhood. He reportedly told her, “If I don’t marry you, I’m going to be a priest.”
26. His favorite painting is The White Crucifixion by Marc Chagall. The painting shows Jesus being crucified on the cross, wearing a prayer shawl as a symbol that he is Jewish.
27. In 2013, Time Magazine 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.”
28. Pope Francis was given a Harley Davidson motorcycle after he gave blessings to hundreds of Harley owners and their bikes in St. Peter’s Square. He sold the bike at an auction that benefited the homeless.
29. As a young teen, Pope Francis used to play basketball, influenced by his father who played basketball for San Lorenzo.
30. As a cardinal with access to the renowned Archbishop chef, Pope 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.