Pope Francis has confessed that he fell in love with a girl that he met when he was training to be a priest.
After a week-long fixation, the Latin pontiff then aged 22 or 23 had to seek redemption in the confession booth, he revealed.
In an extraordinary interview to celebrate his first year in the Catholic church’s top job, Francis revealed that ‘there was a girl that turned my head for a week when I was at the seminary.’
He said: ‘But we were young.’ He added mischievously: ‘I tell my confessor about these things.’
The Argentinian pontiff seems to have had no problem attracting the ladies in his youth.
However his vocation to the priesthood was too strong. On a night out with friends in Buenos Aires, the youngster stopped to go to confession when his decision to join the priesthood came upon him.
And after he became pope, a long lost childhood love came forward. Former neighbour Amalia Damonte told how their families had divided them after the then Jorge Maria Bergoglio had sworn to marry her, aged 12.
In the anniversary interview, Francis also revealed that former Pope Benedict XVI was to come out of retirement.
Loved: Pope Francis waves at the crowd upon his arrival at St.Peter’s square for the weekly general audience on Wednesday
After becoming the first Pope in 600 years to resign a year ago, Benedict was forced to commit to a cloistered life, remaining ‘hidden from the world’.
A ‘shadow Pope’ lurking would become a rallying point for opposition to Francis and risk splitting the Catholic Church, many in the Curia or Vatican civil service feared.
But Francis said that his predecessor still had a lot to offer, and was like ‘a granddad who didn’t deserve to be put in an old people’s home.’
‘We discussed it and decided together that it’s best that he sees people and goes out and rejoins church life’, he told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
‘Some wanted him to retire to a Benedictine monastery far from the Vatican.
‘But it made me think of granddads who strengthen the family with their knowledge and advice and don’t deserve to be put in an old people’s home.’
Francis appeared to pave the way for his own eventual retirement saying that although Benedict was the first, Pope Emeritus, or retired Pope, the position would become routine.
‘It should be an institution, he said. ‘He [Benedict] is the first and perhaps there will be others’, he hinted.
POPE SAYS HE’S OFFENDED BY HYPE AS VATICAN PREPARES ANNIVERSARY COINS AND DVD
Pope Francis has said he is finding the growing ‘Superpope’ hype that surrounds him offensive.
In an interview published to mark his first anniversary as pontiff, he said that he dislikes the media painting a picture of him as a celebrity and a star.
However, in stark contrast, the Vatican is marking the anniversary of his election with commemorative stamps and coins and a DVD with never-before-seen footage of the pope.
Francis told Italian daily Corriere della: ‘Depicting the pope as a sort of Superman, a star, is offensive to me.
‘The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps calmly and has friends like everyone else. A normal person.’