We've been reading plenty of articles about Pope Francis over the years, but when we uncovered these gems, we were pretty surprised too. Here's what we learned recently:
Pope Francis taught a parakeet to talk. When he was studying at the seminary, the future pope got quite attached to the two pets there--a dog and a parakeet. As his sister, Maria Elena Bergoglio, told the National Catholic Reporter: "He taught it to say some things … knowing him, it probably wasn’t a prayer but some sort of insult! He loved animals, but he always knew he’d never be in a position to take care of one."
He's a huge fan of the tango. Of course, Pope Francis is from Argentina, the country where the dance was invented. But as a young man, he was quite the dancer. He's still a fan, so for his 78th birthday, hundreds of well-wishers danced the tango as part of the celebration.
He had a girlfriend when he was a young man. He told his biographers that there was a girl who was part of the group he went dancing with. "But then I discovered my religious vocation."
He once drew a very special picture for his childhood crush. The girl lived a few doors down from the pope's childhood home--and still is there. Amalia Damonte, now 76, told the British newspaper The Telegraph that Jorge (the Pope's given name) drew her a little white house with a red roof. The caption: "This is what I'll buy when we marry." Damonte never answered him, because she was afraid of her dad's disapproval.
He had lots of different jobs before he became a priest. He was a college professor, teaching psychology and literature; a worker in a chemistry lab (he studied the subject at the university), and a bouncer at a nightclub.
His mom was shocked when she found out he was studying to be a priest. His mother, Regina Bergoglio, thought he was going to be a doctor. When she found theology and Latin books in his room, she confronted him by saying, "Jorge, you lied to me," one of his nephews told the Spanish newspaper ABC. Her son replied: "No, mom. I do study medicine. Medicine for the soul."
His grandmother arrived in Argentina wearing a fox-fur coat with a big secret. The pope's family immigrated to Argentina from Italy, and his grandmother, Rosa Margherita, had secretly sewn the family's savings into the lining, according to the Catholic Star Herald. It was his grandmother who taught young Jorge how to pray. "She left a deep spiritual imprint on me and used to tell me stories about the saints.”
A nun saved his life when he was 21. As a young man, the pope had cysts on one of his lungs. While he was in the hospital, the doctor failed to give him a strong enough dose of antibiotics, according to Daily Mail. A quick-thinking nun, a nurse at the same hospital, tripled the dose. Later, the doctors removed part of his lung, a reason why Pope Francis speaks so softly sometimes.