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Rome Reports

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World Book Day: Pope Francis' favorite works

In recent weeks, the pope has cited on several occasions Alessandro Manzoni's book, “The Betrothed.” It's undoubtedly one of the pope's favorite novels. Early in his pontificate, he even confessed that he had read it at least three times. He even knows the beginning by heart.

The pope quoted one of the novel's protagonists during his homily at the Easter Vigil.

If, on your journey, you feel weak and frail, or fall, do not be afraid. God holds out a helping hand and says to you, 'Courage!' You might say, as did Don Abbondio, 'Courage is not something you can give yourself.'

“The Betrothed” isn't the only classic the pope loves. He is also well-acquainted with Dante Alighieri's “Divine Comedy,” a fundamental part of Italian literature.

The pope's taste is wide-ranging. He's passionate about the works of German poet Friedrich Hölderlin and English Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who belonged to the Oxford Movement.

He also confided to Vladimir Putin that he was a fan of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. In fact, he cited “The Brothers Karamazov” during his trip to Abu Dhabi, and he praised the humanity of its characters in his recent interview with Austen Ivereigh.

When he was a young literature professor, Bergoglio invited Jorge Luis Borges to give his students a creative writing class.

In those years, he would recommend to his students Ethel Mannin's “Late Have I Loved Thee.”

He also advised journalists to read the apocalyptic novel, “Lord of the World,” by English author Robert Hugh Benson.