by Tony Aiello, CBSNewYork.com
Two years into his papacy, the world knows Pope Francis is humble, modest, and plain-spoken. On the eve of his visit to the U.S., here are a few facts you might not know about the 266th Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.
1) He believes in alternate medicine. Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh says in 2004, the Pope, then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, began treatment with a Taoist monk named Liu Ming. Regular sessions of massage and acupuncture helped Bergoglio conquer symptoms of diabetes and gallbladder problems.
2) He doesn’t use a computer. He doesn’t use a cell phone. He stopped watching TV in the 1990s.
3) The Pope is an avid soccer fan. San Lorenzo of Buenos Aires is his team, even though he doesn’t watch any games (see #2) Francis told an Argentine newspaper a member of his protection unit, the Swiss Guards, keeps him up-to-date on the progress of the Azulgrana (Blue and Red). The actor Viggo Mortenson, who lived in Buenos Aires for many years, donated money to build a chapel in the team’s stadium. Cardinal Bergoglio celebrated Mass there in 2011. The team is working to build a new stadium and ownership wants to name it “Estadio Papa Francisco.”
4) His favorite work of fiction is a 19th century novel called The Betrothed, written by Alessandro Manzoni. It follows the travails of lovers Renzo and Lucia, whose plans to wed are interrupted by scheming crooks, a cowardly priest, and the bubonic plague. Yes, there’s a happy ending. Earlier this year Pope Francis recommended the book as a good read for engaged couples.
5) His mother wasn’t thrilled when he decided to become a priest. The disappointment of Regina Bergoglio stemmed from her hope Jorge would become a doctor, as he once promised her. He reportedly explained his change of heart by telling her “I’m going to study medicine for the soul.”