"Ho fatto Cristiano il Papa," a new biography of Father Enrico Pozzoli, the priest who baptised Pope Francis "Ho fatto Cristiano il Papa," a new biography of Father Enrico Pozzoli, the priest who baptised Pope Francis 

Pope Francis: Memories of the priest that baptised him

Vatican News presents excerpts from Pope Francis’ preface to the book “Ho fatto cristiano il Papa” (“I made the Pope a Christian”), the biography of Don Enrico Pozzoli, the Salesian missionary who baptised Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires in 1936 and followed his vocation up to the novitiate. The new book by Ferruccio Pallavera will be presented in various Italian cities over the next few days, with the first event taking place in Asti on 10 November at the city's seminary.

By Pope Francis

He [Fr Enrico Pozzoli] was called upon by all those who had a particular problem, in the certainty that he would do anything he could to help. People also turned to Father Pozzoli when they needed advice.

Father Pozzoli had a sense of reality. And when something unusual happened, he had a particular way of expressing himself. He would bring his hand to the top of his head and scratch it with his five fingers, saying, “Canastos...!” This was his only gesture of impatience. He was a man of great common sense, which he showed in the many pieces of advice he gave people. For this reason, he was greatly appreciated by everyone.

He spent hours and hours in the confessional and over the years became a point of reference for all the Salesians in Buenos Aires and the surrounding communities. He did the same with many diocesan priests. He also periodically went to hear the confessions of the Sisters of Mary Help of Christians. He was truly a great confessor.

[After deciding to become a priest, the first person Jorge Mario Bergoglio told about his decision to enter the seminary was his father, in 1955]. I knew that he would understand me more than my mother. In fact, he was immediately enthusiastic. My mother did not have the same reaction. She told me that I would have to think long and hard before making that decision, that it would be better for me to finish university and graduate.

[Two years later, Bergoglio had a serious health problem] It was August 1957. I began to feel twinges in my right lung. The pain didn't stop. My health collapsed, they took me urgently to hospital, I was very weak, to the point that I could not stand up, [and] they put me on a stretcher" [he was in danger of dying of a lung infection, and doctors removed the upper part of his right lung].

[When Bergoglio told Pozzoli, a Salesian, that he intended to become a Jesuit], Father Pozzoli shared my decision and did not propose that I join the Salesians instead of the Society of Jesus. He always respected my choice; he was not the kind of priest who made proselytes. He inquired and told me that the Jesuits would accept me into their seminary in March. This was in November. He added that it was not expedient for me to stay at home for those four months. I also needed to recover physically because the operation I had undergone had been very strenuous. So, he approached his direct superior, the Salesian inspector in Buenos Aires, to whom he explained my situation.

The biography of the teacher of faith Don Enrico Pozzoli, written by Ferruccio Pallavera and published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, will be presented on 10 November, at 6 pm, in Asti in the presence of Bishop Marco Prastaro. A second event will be held in Rome on 12 November at the Pontifical Urbanian University, at 6.30 pm. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples is expected to be present, along with the Minister of Defence, Lorenzo Guerini; and Don Angel Fernandez Artime, Rector Major of the Salesians. On 14 November the scene will shift to Lombardy, with a presentation, at 3 p.m., in the presence of Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, in the parish church of Senna Lodigiana. The last presentation will take place two days later in Lodi, in the Bishop's Palace, where at 8.45 p.m. with the city's bishop, Marizio Malvestiti, and the director of L’Osservatore Romano, Andrea Monda, in attendance.

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07 November 2021, 15:59