The first-person testimonies that we present here are taken from the documentary the path of the angel an Italian-Argentine co-production, authored by Nunzia Locatelli. We traveled to Italy, to Portacomaro in Piedmont, to hear the testimonies of Bergoglio’s relatives. We entered the Vatican to interview two Argentines, privileged witnesses of the conclave of March 12, 2013. We also entered the villas La Cárcova, 31 and 1-11-14 to hear the testimony of the village priests, who worked tirelessly with Jorge bergoglio when he was archbishop in Argentina. And we listen to the mischief of his classmates from the chemical technical institute who knew him as a teenager.
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Here the testimonials:
He felt the call in the church of Flores
“Once it had occurred to me to be a priest but as it occurs to be an engineer, to be a doctor, to be a musician… it occurs to you. I was doing industrial college, I was studying chemistry, and on September 21, I always remember, I went out to go for a walk with my classmates and passed by the Flores church. I went to the church in Flores, and I went in there, I was given, I felt that I had to go in, you know these things that you feel inside that you don’t know what they are like”. That’s how he told Pope Francisco in a radio interview on “The 96 Voice of Caacupe´, compiled in “The way of the Angel”.
Bergoglio continued recounting how he felt the call of his vocation: “I looked, it was dark, one morning in September, around 9 in the morning, and I see a priest coming walking, I didn’t know him, he wasn’t from the church, and he sat in one of the confessionals, the last confessional to the Left, facing the altar. And then I don’t know what happened to meI felt as if someone grabbed me from inside and took me to the confessional, I do not know what happened. And from there I felt that I had to be a priest, but I didn’t doubt, eh?, I didn’t doubt…”
The memories of his companions and a “miraculous” anecdote
Oscar Crespo, Alberto D’Arezzo, Francisco Spinozo, friends and classmates from high school effusively showed up to give their testimony for the documentary and recalled Jorge’s anecdotes and jokes.
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“There are many people who may not know that the current Pope Francis received us from chemical technician. The priesthood did not have much to do with chemistry, ”said Oscar Crespo, his friend at the Technical School.
Crespo recalled that day that Jorge Mario told him that he was going to be a priest: “The truth is that I am going to finish my degree with you, I am going to graduate as a chemist, but I want to tell you that in reality my vocation goes the other way, I think I am going to make the decision to become a priest. I have not decided one hundred percent, but I am seriously thinking about it and, what’s more, I’m going to be a Jesuit. Because my vocation is going to be working with the very poor, visiting the villas, going to the interior of the country, and dedicating myself decisively to helping and evangelizing in turn as our predecessors did in the 18th century”.
Francisco Spinoso told a hilarious anecdote of when Regina Sívori, Jorge Bergoglio’s mother, commented on what she was going to leave as an inheritance. “Her mother told each of her sons what she was going to leave them. To the fat man such a thing, to María Elena such a thing… ‘And I won’t leave anything to you (Jorge), you’re going to search because you’re going to be a priest…’”. The three friends laughed when they recalled that episode.
For his part, Alberto D’Arezzo recalled a fact that he called “miraculous” and that has the then priest Bergoglio as its protagonist. One day when the three friends met with Jorge to have a coffee. Arezzo was very concerned because one of his grandchildren, Tomi, was hospitalized. He asked Bergoglio to write something for him on a little card, of San Expedito: “Let Tomi heal, get better.” And he revealed: “I arrive with the card and I tell my son: ‘Put it in front of the crib.’ Later, he calls me from the clinic and says: ‘Dad, Tomi’s gone crazy even the doctors can’t believe what happened!’ I mentioned it to Jorge and he says: ‘I didn’t do anything’. This man transmits something that is in the air and none of us see it. It was a truly miraculous thing”.
Unexpectedly two days after this interview, Pope Francis, informed that his friends were going to give their testimony for the documentary, called one of the authors of this note, Nunzia Locatelli, introducing himself directly without any secretary to invite her to a mass at Santa Martha.
“I will give my life for the village priests”
The conviction that Jorge Mario Bergoglio had at the age of 18 was reflected in the work he did with the village priests, which he carried out in silence, and was interrupted by that trip to Rome in 2013 to elect the new Pope.
“The priests of the villas made a document called Drugs in the Villas decriminalized in fact. (…) We showed how our neighborhoods lived through a kind of decriminalization and legalization (….), we showed this document to our Bishop Jorge who thought it was very good and we made it known. They threatened me perhaps because the team of priests from the villas had to read it and explain it in public. Bergoglio made it public at a mass in Plaza de Mayo and said: “One of the priests who signed this statement was threatened,” recalled the father Pepe.
The priest affirms that he will never forget that Bergoglio told him: “If someone has to die because of this, I prefer it to be me and that you can continue working in the villas.”
Bergoglio was always consistent in terms of his convictions, the ones he had from the beginning he maintains today as Pope.
Conclave: entered as Jorge and left as Francisco
Mgr William Karcher, in 2013 he was master of ceremony of the Office of Protocol of the Secretary of State. The religious is an Argentine compatriot and when the Pope Francisco He went out to introduce himself to the world for the first time, he held the microphone for him and he lived the conclave and the election up close.
-How was the daily life of the days of the conclave?
-We were in the Sistine Chapel, we arranged the papers, we brought glasses of water, it was served. It was not known how long each session would last. When the doors opened it was because they had already voted, we would rearrange everything, always waiting for the vote that the pope, the bishop of Rome, had to give to the church and to the world. I was there precisely to serve everyone, I was looking at my cardinal, but beyond that I had a moment of intuition, of great mystical experiencewho told me a few minutes before that Bergoglio could be the Pope.
-Can you tell us about this unusual experience you had?
-We were praying the rosary, we the ceremonialists. In one of these turns of the rosary I saw the Virgin, the Unleashed Virgin of whom Bergoglio is devoted and that he took her to Buenos Aires. I was not a devotee before, now I am. Perhaps I was praying to the Virgin of Luján, other invocations I know of, but this vision was very strong, because at the moment the Virgin appeared, and I perceived her presence, I relaxed, put down the rosary and told my colleagues: “I am going to pray for my cardinal, because the message was very direct”. I think it was a sign, because at this moment a very important knot was being untied.
After a few minutes the college of cardinals elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 266th pope in history of the church.
In the Vatican we also interviewed the Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri who was also one of the candidates for Pope. During the 2013 conclave he held the position of Prefect of the Department for the Oriental Churches.
-What do you remember about the 2013 conclave?
-On February 28, 2013 with the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI The seat remained vacant, there was no more pope, and it was necessary to activate the instruments established for the election of the new pontiff. Each of the cardinals of these general congregations said what he thought, saw, and believed about what the current moment of the church was like and what the new profile of the pastor should be like, which he had to guide the church at a difficult time.
Regarding the personality of Pope Francis, he expressed: “I believe that the Lord has given him a super energyso I think that at this moment he is giving a lot of people a drop of hope, a drop of joy, of serenity.”
Bergoglio’s first jersey as pope.
When Bergoglio was newly elected pope, Jose Maria del CorralWorld Director of Scholas Occurrentes and Argentine collaborator, took the first plane to Rome.
He remembers that historic day with emotion: “I went there, just as I was without much protocol or correct clothing. I saw the first T-shirt with the image of the new pope in a first Roman store, I bought it and went to Santa Marta. I arrive at the place, already with the guards looking at me strangely, and as soon as I enter the elevator door opens and Pope Francis comes out. We looked at each other, of course I didn’t understand what I was doing there, we hugged, we cried, I started to open my shirt and the father tells me: “That’s me!”. “Yes, yes,” I told him, “it’s your first shirt.”
The shirt showed an image of Francisco and had a caption: “I come from the end of the world.”
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