Religion & Liberty Online

5 facts about Pope Francis

Five years ago today, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina was elected as the 266th pope of the Catholic Church. Here are five facts you should know about Pope Francis on his fifth anniversary.

1. Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires in 1936. His father, an Italian immigrant, was an accountant and his mother was a homemaker. He had two brothers and two sisters. Chosen at the age of 76, Francis is the ninth oldest pope of those elected after 1295. (Benedict, who was elected at the age of 78, was fifth oldest.) He took the name “Francis” in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi.

2. Francis is the first Jesuit pope and the first pope from South America. (The only remaining continents that have never had a pope come from their lands are Australia, Antarctica, and North America.) He was the first non-European pope in 1,000 years.

3. He studied and received a master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires, but later decided to become a Jesuit priest and studied liberal arts at the Catholic seminary in Santiago, Chile.

4. He only has one lung. His other lung was removed due to infection when he was a teenager.

5. Francis is known for his personal simplicity. In Argentina he lived in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace, cooked his own meals, and gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work. At the Vatican, Francis rejected the typical papal apartment for the less formal St. Martha’s House, where he lives among fellow priests. He reportedly used to drive around the Vatican grounds in a 1984 Renault 4 that had 190,000 miles on the odometer when it was donated by a priest.

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).