Francis - Pre-Pontificate Years

Pope Francis was born on Dec. 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires and given the name Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Both his father, Mario Giuseppe Bergoglio, and his mother, Regina María Sivori Gogna, had immigrated from Italy, His father Mario worked as a railway worker and his mother took care of the home and raising their five children, 3 boys and 2 girls, of which Jorge was the oldest.  

After completing his primary education, young Jorge attended a technical high school and earned a diploma as a chemical technician, after which he began working for a food laboratory. In 1957, at age 21, he became seriously ill with pneumonia. As result a part of his left lung was removed, a debility from which he continues to suffer.

Feeling a call to the priesthood, he joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), entering the novitiate on March 11, 1958. Two years later on March 12, 1960, he took his first vows, and the following year entered San Miguel Seminary in Buenos Aires. After completing his philosophy and theology studies, he was ordained to the priesthood on December 13, 1969. Finally, at the end of the arduous path of Jesuit formation, in 1973 he completed his tertianship and made his final and fourth vow, to serve the pope, the Church and the Society of Jesus. He was also elected the Jesuit Provincial that same year.

Fr. Bergoglio served as the superior of his Jesuit province, which encompasses both Argentina and Uruguay, until 1979. From there he was assigned as rector and theology professor of the Colegio Máximo of San José in Buenos Aires, where members of the Society are trained in philosophy and theology. He served in this capacity until 1985, after which he was sent to Germany to work on a doctorate on Romano Guardini, only to be recalled to serve as a confessor and spiritual director.

In 1992 Pope John Paul II elected Fr. Bergoglio to be an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. In 1997 he became its coadjutor archbishop, effectively archbishop-in-waiting, and he then succeeded to the See of Buenos Aires in 1998. Three years later in 2001, Pope John Paul II named him a cardinal.

As Archbishop, the future pope would serve as the President of the Bishops Conference of Argentina from 2005 to 2011. In that capacity he took part in the 5th Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) held in Aparecida, Brazil in May 2007. Among its accomplishments was its final document, often called the Aparecida document. Archbishop Bergoglio was responsible for the committee drafting the document.  

Finally, on March 13, 2013, following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, he was elected Pope, taking the name Francis for the first time in papal history. He was also the first Jesuit and the first Latin American to become pope.


CNA Biography of the Pope

Vatican Biography of the Pope

Theological Formation of the Pope