We, Filipinos, are known for our strong faith and hospitality. As we unite in welcoming Pope Francis, dubbed as the people’s pope, let us know more about his enigmatic yet humble personality.
December 17, 1936 was when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His mother, Regina Maria Sivori, came from a Catholic family from Northwestern Italy. As a full-time mother, she bonded with Jorge over watching their favorite football team in the stadium, and listening to opera broadcasts via the phonograph or state radio. Until now, Jorge would reminisce the moments when her mother would explain the opera to him on Saturday afternoons.
Jorge and his father, Mario Jose Francisco Bergoglio, have a lot in common. Jorge’s sister, Maria Elena, said that aside from having pleasing personalities, they also shared a love for both the opera and tango. While the family played cards, they enjoyed watching their father play basketball at the local club. On Sundays, they would see their father working at home with his accounting books, while the house overflowed with classical music. Their family had no luxuries but they got everything that a happy life defined.
Just like every little kid, the young Jorge had a mischievous steak. During his elementary days, the nuns in his school recalled how he would incessantly jump up and down the stairs. There was also a time when his mother was called by the teacher due to his behaviour. When his mother asked him to apologize, Jorge admired her all the more for not tolerating his act.
As a sixth grader, he excelled in conduct, religion and the Gospel. He revealed that he felt his first calling during the sixth grade when he had a chance to speak with Fr. Martinez, who was known to be the famous “fisher” of vocations.
In his school, Ramos Mejia, there were “good night talks” that helped him build a solid foundation for his vocation. Jorge became a devotee of the Blessed Virgin from whom he learned about the love for purity.
Jorge’s father asked him to work while studying. At a young age, he worked in a sock factory as a clean-up boy. Because his father also works at home, Jorge learned about accounting, which led him to an administrative job on his third year of secondary school. On his fourth year, he was enrolled in an industrial institute specializing in food chemistry.
It was in 1953 when he visited the parish church of San Jose de Flores. During his confession with Fr. Carlos Duarte Ibarra, Jorge felt a personal encounter the Lord—a surprising religious experience that changed his life.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the new pope on March 13, 2013. He was considered to be a pope of many firsts as he was the first to take the name “Francis” after Saint Francis of Assisi, the first pope from the Americas, the first pope from the Society of Jesus, and the first ordained priest after Vatican II.
Being the pope for almost two years now, he has expressed his views on various social issues by encouraging the church to treat the homosexuals or LGBT community with respect and sensitivity. In an address delivered to the members of the Italian Catholic Doctors Association, he emphasized that life is sacred, therefore abortion and euthanasia should not be practiced for these are “sins against the creator”.
Another great sin, according to the pope, is the division among religions. The pope explained that despite our differences in our beliefs, we are called to unite. Recently on January 11 this year, Pope Francis baptized 33 babies in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, where he told mothers that it is acceptable to breastfeed their children even inside the church. These are just some of the things that we will never forget about the pope.
Pope in PH
Fr. Lito Geanan of Baclayon Church in Bohol, one of the country’s oldest churches that was destroyed when a magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook Visayas in 2013, shared his thoughts on why many Filipinos want to meet the pope.
“Pope Francis has the heart for the poor. We all know that majority or marami talaga sa mga Pilipino ay nasa kahirapan. Si Pope Francis ay malapit talaga sa mga tao. Isa pa, nagpapakita rin siya ng magandang example ng kahalagahan ng simbahan sa mga tao. ‘Yung Papal Visit ay nagtutugma sa primary concern ng Papa – ang mga tao.”
Because many devotees feel that he is a pope they can relate to, millions are looking forward to meet him in person during the Papal Visit, happening on January 15 to 19, 2015. Below is the Pope Francis’ itinerary: