Considered as one of the world’s most influential people, a pope can be easily thought of as someone who is all about regality and holiness. But much like you and me, our beloved pontiffs also have their own interests and hobbies that go beyond their day-to-day responsibilities.
Read on and be amazed by the fun and youthful personalities of the popes we loved across the years!
Pope John Paul II, The Aspiring Actor
Yes, you read that right. Before the world knew him as Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla was an aspiring actor. When he entered university in the fall of 1939, young Karol became involved with an avant-garde student theatre troupe called Studio 39. The experience fueled his literary and theatrical ambitions which soon paved the way for Karol to form the renowned Rhapsodic Theater—a resistance movement during the Nazi invasion.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, The Musician
Though he rarely played in public, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a skilled pianist. He has a great love for classical music, and he especially enjoys playing Mozart’s pieces—a talent that was portrayed perfectly in the Netflix original film, The Two Popes.
The former pontiff has been playing the Mozart’s pieces on piano throughout his life—and even continues to do so in retirement. Aside from the piano, Pope Benedict XVI is also known for his love of cats. But due to some traditional rules in the Vatican, he was not allowed to keep one at his apartment in the Apostolic Palace.
Pope Francis, The Dancer
As a young man, Pope Francis was quite a dancer. He would usually go out with his friends to dance—particularly to tango along the South American music that he very much loved!
“I like it a lot,” Lolo Kiko said in a book published before he became the pope. “It’s something that comes from within me.” This same passion was what inspired thousands of people to gather in St. Peter’s Square in 2014 and dance tango—all to celebrate Lolo Kiko’s 78th birthday!
Pope Leo XIII, The Puzzle Maker
Pope Leo XIII sure loved a little mystery—and what is more mysterious than puzzles? The former pope used the pseudonym “X” to anonymously craft poetic puzzles in Latin for a Roman periodical at the turn of the 19th century.
Eight of Pope Leo XIII’s puzzles were published anonymously in Vox Urbis, a Roman newspaper that was printed entirely in Latin between 1898 to 1913. The Pope’s specialty was lengthy riddles, particularly charades. Those who answered the puzzles right got a poetry book written by Leo XIII himself.