Pope Francis wants you to know he is not a superhero. On the other hand, he is probably just the most popular pontiff ever.
During his year as pope, the 77-year-old has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, claimed the title of Time Magazine’s 2013 Person of the Year, graced the cover of "Rolling Stone" and accumulated a combined Twitter following of over 12 million -- and growing.
A man that is adulated in the public eye and media, Pope Francis is one of the most recognized figures in the world -- and his name one of the most-searched on the Internet. Here are some things you may not know about the “People’s Pope.”
|He studied philosophy and is a trained chemist|
Before he was pope or even Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis was known by his birth name Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 17, 1936, he was the eldest of a family of five children to an Italian immigrant family, according to his Vatican biography. As a young man, the future pontiff studied chemistry, philosophy and theology, and later lectured in those subjects. He became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and upon his election to the papal throne chose his name after Saint Francis of Assisi.
|He is a passionate supporter of San Lorenzo Football Club|
One of the biggest soccer clubs in Argentina can proudly boast that they have God on their side -- or at the very least the support of Pope Francis, who is a paying member of San Lorenzo de Almagro, a club named for a saint.
The San Lorenzo club was quick to congratulate the former Argentine Cardinal in his first few days as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church last year, even sending a letter to their most holy fan. The team also miraculously won the Argentine soccer title last year.
|He used to be a bouncer|
Pope Francis shocked the world last December when he admitted that prior to joining the priesthood, he used to be a bouncer at a nightclub in Buenos Aires. According to the Catholic News Service, he also spent time sweeping floors and running tests in a chemical lab as a teen.
|He Owned a Harley|
There’s something just so delightful about the idea that the always-smiling pope could also be a bad-boy biker in his youth. While the pope did auction off his Harley-Davidson last month for 241,500 euros ($328,300), it’s not known whether he actually took the holy hog for a spin since it was given to him by the bike’s maker last year.
In fact, the pontiff is better known for flying economy class, riding through Buenos Aires on a bus and scooting through Rome’s narrow lane-ways in a modest Ford Focus. He even hopped in a minivan with the other cardinals after he was elected pope rather than take the special sedan organized for him.
|He takes selfies!|
Earlier this month, Pope Francis scolded the media for the public image of him as some sort of star or superhero as depicted in such images as the superman graffiti which cropped up around the Vatican early this year.
"The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps well and has friends like everyone else; a normal person," he said in an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
This selfie taken in August last year inside St. Peter's Basilica with youths from the Italian Diocese of Piacenza and Bobbio proves the pope is a true man of the people.
|He tangos -- and once had a girlfriend|
"I love tango and I used to dance when I was young," Pope Francis said in a 2010 biography about him called “El Jesuita." In the same book, it was revealed the pope also had a girlfriend whom he used to share this love of tango.
"She was one of a group of friends I went dancing with. But then I discovered my religious vocation," he told the book’s authors Francesca Ambrogetti and Sergio Rubin.
|He invited homeless men to his birthday party|
While the pope recently debunked one rumor that he snuck out of the Vatican at night to feed the homeless, there is little doubt that he is passionate about relieving homelessness and poverty.
On the morning of his 77th birthday, the pope invited a group of homeless men and a dog to partake in mass and have breakfast with him at the Vatican. The three men all sleep on the streets outside the Holy See's walls, reported the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.
Archbishop Konrad Krajewski issued the invitation on the pope's behest, asking: "Would you like to come Pope Francis' birthday party?" the paper reported.
During the morning's proceedings, one of the men reportedly said, "It's worthwhile being a vagrant because you get to meet the pope.”