Pope Francis – a postman and pharmacist, that is, anecdotes about the Holy Father

When Fr. Alfred Xuereb, a Secretary of Benedict XVI, gave the new Pope a letter from his former superior, and when Francis read it, he made an angry face expression and said: ‘Well, we have a problem because somebody does not have a good opinion about you…!’ The Maltese priest froze from fear but soon he saw a brighter expression of Francis who suggested that he become his Secretary.

This one and over a hundred other anecdotes about pope Francis were published in an attractively edited collection by ‘Fronda’, entitled ‘It is me, pope Francis’, elaborated by a journalist Grzegorz Polak famous for his articles in ‘Niedziela’.

Thanks to this book we will find out why pope Francis does not watch TV, why cardinals do not travel by tube, why cardinal Brgoglio wanted to give a kiss to an older Orthodox Jew, why the Pope feels a postman one time and another time he feels a pharmacist or which great footballers he met during his private audience, which is interesting in the context of the recently finished Mundial.

The title of the collection evidently refers to frequent phone calls of the Holy Father to known and unknown people to him, which has been described in this excellent little book. Also, the editor, Polak, dedicating the collection of anecdotes to his acquaintances adds the warning: ‘be vigilant, the Pope may phone also you!’.

Grzegorz Polak, who has a lot of experience in similar publications, because he has edited three collections of ‘flowers’ of St. John Paul II, was looking for anecdotes in many books, press publications, on internet portals, and even blogs. He heard some of them in Vatican and from priests whom he knows. He received particularly a lot of material from the edition of ‘L’Osservatore Romano’ and texts of ‘Niedziela’ and books of ‘Library of Niedziela’.

‘It is me, pope Francis’, however, differs from the collection of anecdotes about John Paul II consisting of the very ‘flowers’.

On the pages of the book edited by ‘Fronda’, we get to know not only the pope playing jokes, telling jokes, surprising with nonconventional gestures, but also as an excellent preacher speaking the language of the modern man. Many quoted fragments come mainly from sermons from the House of St. Martha, in which the Pope departs from the formal tone the most.

‘This is a more serious book than it seems to be’ – Grzegorz Polak says to ‘Niedziela’. – It clearly shows Francis’ personalized vision of the Church which is inviting and holding open door to come through. But also the Church which goes out to meet a man and looking for him on peripheries. The Church which also addresses to nonbelievers. The Church whose priests should smell with sheep, as Francis likes to say so. The Church which is really concerned about the fate of the poor, in which the most important person in the Roman control panel are not members of the Curia, but the papal almoner, archbishop Konrad Krajewski.

The book can be excellent to read on holiday. Its light form, however, does not release anyone from reflection on the vision of the Church expressed by pope Francis in the words: ‘I would like the Church to be poor for the poor’.

The collection comprises the events which took place in the first year of the pontificate of the current Pope. Whereas the Holy Father ‘adds’ other volumes of ‘papal flowers’, because nearly every day brings new anecdotes. The fact that in such a short time it was possible to collect them in such a big number gives hope that other books presenting the ‘flowers’ of the current Holy Father will appear.


"Niedziela" 32/2014

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl