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Meet Fr. Enrico Pozzoli, The Priest Who Baptized Pope Francis

Fr. Pozzoli is a Salesian missionary who baptised then Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires in 1936.

On November 10, the biography of Don Enrico Pozzoli “Ho fatto cristiano il Papa” (I made the Pope a Christian), will be presented in Asti. A second event will be held in Rome on November 12. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples is expected to be present.

Fr. Pozzoli is a Salesian missionary who baptised then Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires in 1936. The Salesian priest’s presence in the pope’s life did not end there, however. He was one of the people who helped the now-Pope Francis to enter priesthood.

Pope Francis wrote the preface of the biography. Read on.

Excerpt written by Pope Francis

Photo from Agenzia Notizie Salesiana

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. (Read: Pope Francis Before He Became a Priest)

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. (Read: Meet the Pope’s Favorite Teachers)

[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.



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