Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on December 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He felt the call of God and was ordained a Jesuit priest on December 13, 1969. A Jesuit means that he belongs to the order known as the Society of Jesus, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Jesuits are known for traveling the world to spread the word of God and being missionaries who serve the poor and fight injustice.
In Rome, Pope Francis, or Francisco, is known as il Papa, which means Father. The pope is the Bishop of Rome and the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. He lives in Vatican City, which is a municipality inside the city of Rome. In his time as pope, Francis has shared a vision of Church that emphasizes hope, mercy, and care for each other. Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope.
By Tânia Rêgo/ABr (Agência Brasil) [CC-BY-3.0-br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons?
If you could ask Pope Francis one question, what would it be?
Download a free infographic, The Pope of Mercy, perfect for use during the Year of Mercy. Print this poster-sized resource (11” x 17”) for classroom display, or send copies home with your students for families to share in the excitement of this special year by learning more about Pope Francis.
The papal name chosen is thought to be an indicator of what kind of papal reign the new pontiff hopes to emulate. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was thought to have chosen Benedict after Benedict XV, who had a relatively short reign at only seven and a half years, and St. Benedict of Nursia, who founded and inspired the Benedictine monastic tradition in the Western Church. Think about who you emulate and are inspired by. It can be someone you know personally, such as a family member or friend, or a person who is known for how he or she lived his or her life, such as Saint Mother Teresa or Saint Ignatius. On a separate sheet of paper, write your chosen name and explain what it means to you.
Pray for the Pope, Pray for the World
When the pope has an official papal decree or blessing, it is common for him to say “Urbi et Orbi” which means “to the city and for the world.” The pope is also the Bishop of Rome, but when he says Urbi et Orbi, he is speaking not just to the city of Rome but to the Catholics around the world. Write a brief prayer of thanks for the pope, asking God to watch over him as he leads the Catholics around the world. These prayers can remain private or be shared with the group, if you choose.
Here, There, God is Everywhere!
Pope Francis comes from a Jesuit education, which follows an approach to spirituality that was founded by St. Ignatius. Ignatian spirituality is rooted in our awareness that God can be found in every one, every place, and in everything. On a separate sheet of paper, write where you find God in your everyday life, whether it’s in people you know, places you visit, or things you enjoy. If you choose, share your list with your family or friends.
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Walking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church
In Walking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church, Pope Francis urges us to make Jesus central in our individual lives and in the collective life of the Church—to walk toward him, and ultimately to walk with him, at all times and in all places.