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Rome Reports

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Who was the missionary who baptized Pope Francis and lead him to the priesthood?

Before he became the Pope...

...or was made a Cardinal... 

Jorge Bergoglio was baptized by his local priest, Fr. Enrico Pozzoli, a Salesian missionary from Italy. 

Ferruccio Pallavera is a veteran journalist from Lodi, the town in northern Italy where Fr. Pozzoli was born and raised before leaving for Argentina, and has become an expert on his life. 

Author, “I Made the Pope a Christian”
“When Pope Francis was elected I began to receive phone calls and requests from journalists from Buenos Aires, that wanted information about Fr. Enrico Pozzoli: the priest who married the Pope's parents, who baptized the Pope, who baptized three of his brothers and sisters, and above all who accompanied him into seminary.”

His new book, “I Made the Pope a Christian,” tells the story of Fr. Pozzoli, and how he guided the future pope towards the priesthood—including convincing the reluctant Bergoglio family to let him enter the seminary. 

Author, “I Made the Pope a Christian”
“All the Bergoglios gather to celebrate 25 years of marriage of the two married by Fr. Enrico, and in the middle of the party Fr. Enrico turns to the mother and says “listen, why don't you want your son to go into the seminary?” And in the joy of the party she says “if he wants to go, let him go.” At which point he turns to everyone and says “you all heard her, right?”

While conducting research on his life, Pallavera wanted to consult a primary source, and wrote a letter to the Pope. To his surprise, he later received a call from Pope Francis himself. 

Author, “I Made the Pope a Christian”
"He invited me to Rome and gave me an interview, me and him, about Don Pozzoli. And among the exceptional things he gave me was a picture from when he was fifteen and was serving Mass for Don Pozzoli."

That picture ended up making it onto the book's cover. Complete with the Pope's contribution, “I Made the Pope a Christian” demonstrates the significant influence Don Pozzoli's character had on a young boy who would grow up to lead the Catholic Church.  

Considering Pope Francis' focus on the margins, his love of the poor, and his global view of the Church, it's no surprise that he learned what it means to be a Christian from a missionary.