From delivering an unprecedented address before a joint session of Congress to praising the work of religious women at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Pope Francis has captivated the United States this week. But while the pope's progressive stance on issues such as climate change, the death penalty, and immigration are becoming increasingly well known, many facts about his personal life are not. Here are six things you may not have known about the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
1. The pope’s a Jesuit.
This is the first time that a pope has hailed from the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits. With nearly 17,000 priests and brothers, the Society of Jesus is the largest men’s religious order in the world. Because a Jesuit makes a promise not to seek higher office, it’s unusual to find one leading a cathedral, much less the Vatican.
2. Francis was a bouncer ... at a nightclub.
While a student in Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio worked as a doorman at a nightclub. It’s hard now to imagine the kind and merciful pontiff being all that strict at the velvet rope. The pope wasn’t the only Jesuit to work as a gatekeeper. Popular Jesuit saint Alphonsus Rodrigues, S.J., is remembered for his 45 years of steadfast work as the doorkeeper of a college in Majorca.
3. He hasn't watched TV in ... 25 years!
Pope Francis hasn’t watched television since 1990, saying “It’s not for me.” Because the pontiff is still a huge fan of his Argentinian soccer team, San Lorenzo Almagro, he relies on the Swiss Guard to keep him up-to-date on match scores.
4. Pope Francis prefers his pizza dine-in.
The pope misses going out for pizza. When asked by a reporter from La Voz de Pueblo about what he misses about his life in Argentina, Francis answered, “The tranquility of walking through the streets, or to go to a pizzeria to eat a good pizza.” He told the reporter that delivery just isn’t the same.
5. He was born a wine lover.
While Pope Francis is known for his simple tastes, he does enjoy a warm cup of Argentinian tea called mate, as well as espresso and wine. His appreciation for vino is in his blood: His grandfather was a winemaker back in Italy. The pontiff talks about wine quite a bit in his homilies — in particular, the story where Jesus turns water into wine in the parable of the wedding at Cana. In a recent homily, he said, “The finest of wines will come for every person who stakes everything on love.”
6. His Holiness is more popular than One Direction.
When it comes to Twitter, the pope is more popular than pop sensation One Direction. Francis tweets in nine different languages (Spanish, which is the most popular, as well as English, French, German, Portuguese, Arabic, Polish, and Latin). He has amassed more than 23 million followers, and he tweets nearly every day. Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, called for a “New Evangelization” that would bring the Gospel to the world. It looks like Pope Francis continues to use 140 characters to do just that.
Kaija DeWitt is Director of Campus Ministry and theology teacher at Xavier High School, a 168-year-old Jesuit school in New York City. She also serves as New York Regional Director of Contemplative Leaders in Action, a program of the Jesuit Collaborative.