Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected this week as the first Latin American Pope. Last night, his childhood sweetheart claimed she may have driven him into the church when she rejected his marriage proposal when they were both 12 years old.
76-year-old Amalia Damonte said young Bergoglio had said to her:
“If I can’t marry you, I will become a priest”, after she rejected him during their childhood in Buenos Aires. “Luckily for him, I said no”, she joked.
Amalia grew up in the same neighborhood of Buenos Aires as Bergoglio, her home is four doors down from where Francis grew up in Flores, Argentina. She said her dad beat her after she received a love letter from Bergoglio back in either 1948 or 1949:
“When we were young, he wrote me a letter and I didn’t reply to him,” she told the Argentinean press. “My father had hit me because I had dared to write a note to a boy.”
In the letter, Bergoglio professed his love and asked her to marry him. He drew a picture of a white house with a red roof and promised to buy one like it so they could live together. Amalia never saw him after that.
“My parents kept me away from him and did everything possible to separate us.”
“We were 12, 13 years old. No more than that. He was wonderful. He was a proper guy,” she said. “He is a good man, the son of a working class family. I hope he can achieve all the good that he holds in his heart.”
Amalia said she was shocked when he became Pope:
“I froze in front of the television. I couldn’t believe that Jorge was the Pope!” said his old girlfriend.
Reminiscing about his girlfriend, Bergoglio said:
“She was one of a group of friends with whom I used to go dancing. Then I discovered my religious vocation.”
76-year-old Francis was elected the Catholic Church’s leader on Wednesday, becoming the 266th pontiff and replacing 85-year-old Benedict, who stepped out last month.