VATICAN CITY, ITALY (PIX11)– Pope Francis the First met the international press Saturday in one of his first, public events and told journalists he chose his papal name pretty much on the spot Wednesday night in the Sistine Chapel, when it became clear he was about to get elected the 266th pontiff.
The former Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina said he got the inspiration from Cardinal Hummes of Brazil, who was sitting near him, according to Joan Lewis of EWTN Television, who translated for us.
“Hummes leaned over to him and said, ‘Don’t forget about the poor,'” Lewis told PIX. “He chose Francis right there, for Saint Francis of Assisi.”
Francis of Assisi is the patron Saint of Italy and renowned for his ministry to the poor and reverence for all the world’s creatures and nature.
Bergoglio appeared on the stage of Paul VI Hall in Vatican City wearing simple, white robes and plain, black shoes–a departure from the red, papal shoes favored by the recently retired Benedict XVI. “I think he’s going to do with as little of the fancy things as he can,” Lewis observed.
The new Pope has been lauded for his humility in the wake of his historic election, as the first Holy Father from Latin America. After he was presented to the world on the grand loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, he took a mini-bus with the Cardinals who had just selected him back to a pensione where they’d stayed…..to get his bags and pay his bill.
On Saturday, he told journalists he wanted a “poor Church for the poor”–meaning he wanted priests and fellow Catholics to focus on outreach to the needy.
Pope Francis also seemed much more relaxed than he did on Wednesday night, when he initially stood stiffly on the loggia–not waving and barely smiling. On Saturday, he hugged Argentinian and Italian journalists presented to him on the stage and made a couple of jokes. Vatican spokesperson, Rev. Thomas Rosica, said of Francis’ first appearance after the election, “I would have been terrified Wednesday night, but he’s growing into it. He’s a natural.”
One joke Francis told Saturday involved an anecdote about his papal name. Rosica recounted, “He said somebody suggested he take the name of a certain Pope who had suppressed Jesuits.” Francis is a proud Jesuit who once led the Argentinian contingent for the famous order of priests.
One Argentinian journalist who personally greeted the Holy Father brought him a specialty drink from his homeland.
When asked what she saw in Francis’ eyes, she said, “Luz”–meaning “light”.
Francis the First will be charged with leading the Catholic Church out of a dark period marred by scandal and infighting at the Vatican. He is supposed to be meet with the man he replaced, 85 year old Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, sometime in the next week.
On Saturday, he received applause from journalists, when he thanked them for their work covering the conclave.
A Filipino priest, Rev. Erwin Balagapo, translated: “First of all, he talked to you guys in the media,” the priest said.
“You worked a lot and studied a lot. He said ‘thank you.'”