When visiting Rome, The Vatican City is bound to be number one on your must see list. An independent sovereign state since 1929, with its own stamps, train station and its own national anthem. The state also has its very own police force known as the famous “Swiss Guards”. Since the 16th century it has been their job to protect and serve the most important person in this tiny city: The Pope, Head of the Apostolic Roman Catholic Church.
In March 2013, A humble cardinal from Buenos Aries was surprisingly elected for the job, and since that day Pope Francesco has bred new life into the Catholic church, gaining the respect and love of millions almost immediately. Born on 17th December 1936 in Buenos Aires. He was ordined as a Jesuit in 1969 and spent many years studying in both Argentina and Germany before becoming a bishop in 1992 and the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998.
Aged 76 upon election of Pope, he was most definitely not the expected favourite for the job. Just two years younger than his predecessor, Pope Benedict. But he has proved that age is only a number and it has been claimed that today he is one of the most interesting individuals on the planet.
So what is it about this man that is so likeable? Ever since his election Pope Francesco has become known for his very un-popelike actions. Using public transport, opting for a smaller, simpler apartment as opposed to the grand palatial one that he was expected to live in. He has been seen spontaneously shopping in Rome for new glasses without a huge entourage and on the day of his election he requested that he be blessed before he was to bless the crowd gathered in St peters Square.
Before delivering his message at the Holy Thursday Mass. Pope Francesco spent time on his knees, washing the feet of young women from the nearby prison. The first time a Pope has ever washed the feet of women, one of them, a Serbian Muslim, which is another example in his break in papal traditions.
People have compared his humble, humane character to that of Christ himself. Through his actions and visible love for the people, Pope Francesco has gained the respect of all types of Christians throughout the world, and what is most amazing about this Super Pope has been his ability to recapture the young Christians of the world who over recent years have been seen to reject the Megachurch choosing a more simplistic, rugged form of christianity. Also The Language of Pope Francesco, accessible and concise and his simple yet profound quotes fit perfectly with the Twitter style speak of the younger generation. “The Church is a love story, not an institution” and “War is madness. It is the suicide of humanity.”
So When you are next in Rome and visiting the Vatican itself, in between taking in the wonderful works of Michelangelo and the renaissance frescoes, take a moment to reflect on this wonderful man. The Pope of the people, his beautiful selfless acts of compassion his love, his sense of humour and his rejection of luxury in order to reflect his humble beginnings.