Tolkien Fan, Former Bouncer, Trilingual: Prepare for Pope Francis’ D.C. Visit with 10 Facts

His Holiness, Pope Francis, will touch down on Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 22.

His first trip to the U.S. as pope is a monumental moment for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

The 265th successor of St. Peter is known for his humble ways and strong views on certain hot-button issues such as climate change and immigration.

To prepare for his visit and learn more about the current leader of the Catholic Church, here are 10 facts about Jorge Mario Bergoglio, better known as  Pope Francis. 

He is a Pope of ‘Firsts’

He is the first pope from Latin America (he was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina), the first pope to come from outside of Europe in 1,000 years, the first Jesuit pop,; and the first with the chosen name, Francis, after the Catholic friar St. Francis of Assisi. 

He Takes Religion Seriously

For his first Holy Thursday Mass, which took place in a juvenile detention center in Rome, he requested the media not attend to give privacy to the parishioners.

He was Once a Bouncer 

Before he became a Jesuit priest, he worked as a bouncer at a bar in the city, a janitor, a high school literature and psychology teacher and a chemist (he graduated with a chemical technician diploma).

He Once had an Infection

Due to a severe infection when he was 21, the upper part of his right lung was removed.

He Speaks Several Different Languages 

He is fluent in German, Spanish and Italian. He can also speak a small amount of French, English and Portuguese.

He Saves Lives

The Pontiff is known throughout the world for his emphasis on aiding those in dire need.  In his 30’s, he saved people from death squads during Argentina’s military-dictatorship. Due to his secrecy, we will never know how many people he saved, but the number of people he saved is between 30 and 100 people.

He Loves Tolkien 

Who would’ve guessed that a pope would be a total fan of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit? Tolkien Brasil reported that the 78-year-old occasionally quoted Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, two Tolkien characters, during a speech to Argentinean teachers in 2008.

He Helped Write a Book

He co-wrote the book “Sobre el Cielo y la Tierra (On Heaven and Earth),” which can be purchased on Amazon.

He Believes in Charities 

To mark Harley-Davidson’s 110th anniversary, the Pope was given a new Dyna Super Glide by the company in 2013, which he autographed and put up for auction. The bike sold for$327,000 in Paris, making it the most expensive motorcycle sold in the 21st century. All of the proceeds went to a homeless shelter and a Roman soup kitchen.

He has Italian Parents 

His parents were Italian immigrants who fled from Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Flickr user Marco Garro

headshotKarla Casique is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at

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