The world was shocked and surprised when Pope Benedict resigned from his position as Pope of the Catholic Church due to health reasons. This brought on a lot of speculations and anticipation of who the new Pope was going to be. Would it be an African, another European or will the tradition continue for an Italian Pope?
I was having one of those days at work when a work colleague shouted, ‘THEY HAVE A NEW POPE!’ My work was done for the day! I opened the BBC website just in time to see white smoke snaking out of the Sistine Chapel to indicate that a new pope had been chosen. Habemus Papam!! One hour and some 10 minutes later (I honestly thought the new guy had changed his mind! ) French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the senior cardinal deacon comes out and rattles some things in Italian and mentions the name of the new Pope. The BBC commentators were really surprised about the choice of the new Pope and when the Argentinean Jorge Mario Bergoglio finally came out onto the balcony, shouts rang out in St. Peters Square in the Vatican City. He had chosen Pope Francis I as his Papal name. I then began to wonder why the name Francis. As an Anglican-born Christian I knew it had something to do with Saint Francis and if you know the historical background of Saint Francis you would understand. So why were the BBC commentators surprised? They said he was a conservative and a really humble guy who stuck for social justice and what’s more he wasn’t young like everyone expected which meant he had like 10years to go before pulling a ‘Benedict’ #justsaying.So why did Pope Francis I choose the name Francis? Well, Popes have to choose a name once he is elected to the papacy and this shows to the world who he wants to emulate.
So here are my deductions of this name choice.
Francis comes from the name of Saint Francis of Assisi an Italian Catholic friar and preacher and one of the most venerated religious figures in history.
Saint Francis was the embodiment of a true follower of Jesus Christ who literally followed the Gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ to the letter. He abandoned his wealthy family lifestyle and chose to be with the poor in society to help alleviate poverty and to preach the word of God. His humility, compassion, love and ardent zeal in evangelizing led many people to convert to Christianity. I chanced upon an ebook called Life and Legend of Saint Francis of Assisi and culled a quotation written by French of Father Candide Chalippe
“St. Francis was simple, but he had great qualities of mind and heart; and his simplicity was a perfection in him—not a defect. If it induced him to do things of which human prudence disapproves, it was because he was guided by Divine light; it was because he sought to be despised by the world, to render himself more conformable to Jesus Christ. Men of his age were not deceived by it; they discovered the principle which made him act and speak with such simplicity. His constant endeavor to humble himself, and draw on himself contempt, only gave them a greater esteem for his person, and they loaded him with honors. If our age deems itself wiser, what reason has it for not doing similar justice”
Pope FrancisI chose his name because he wants the spirit of Saint Francis to be embodied during his papacy. Good choice! That’s what the world needs; a man who isn’t afraid of human disapproval but seeks the interest of God in everything.
Pope Francis I is known to be very humble, a conservative in doctrines and very committed to social justice. He lived apparently in a small apartment instead of the palatial bishop’s residence and chose public transportation. He cooks his own food too. I wonder how many of our current religious leaders can give up worldly goods for such a lifestyle. I was amazed and touched by two very simple words used during his speech this evening ‘Evangelism and Love’
“…..And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in LOVE, of mutual trust…”
“My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with help of my Cardinal Vicar, be fruitful for the Evangelization of this beautiful city”- Pope Francis I
He then asked the people to bless or pray for him before he blessed them. I feel this guy! Herh! The people always want a blessing, everyday they are asking for blessing! Father bless me, Father bless me, Father bless me..! For once the people had to bless their Pope too! That’s the first lesson of GIVING back! And Pope Francis obviously knows that his current job won’t be an easy one and with only God’s blessing and the people’s prayers he can accomplish what he has been called to do.
I bless him with all the blessings of fruitfulness on this new path that the Lord has set before him. May the world be led back to the path of righteousness from which it has been sidetracked! Amen!
Cardinal Bergoglio is the first Jesuit priest chosen to be Pope. He is the first Pope to have been born in the Americas and is the first non-European Pope in over 1,200 years.