15th March, 2013
A childhood sweetheart of the newly elected pope of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has disclosed that she rejected the pope’s marriage proposal.
The proposal, she claimed, may have driven him into priesthood, the DailyMail of London reports.
Amalia Damonte, 76, the ex-girlfriend of the newly elected pope, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who grew up in the same neighourhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, south America, with the pope, claimed that Pope Francis asked her hand in marriage before he was ordained as a priest in 1969.
The now white-haired pensioner revealed that it was either in 1948 or 1949 when the future Pope, then aged 12, wrote her a letter declaring he would like to marry her but she rejected his marriage proposal.
“He said that if I didn’t say yes, he would have to become a priest. Luckily for him, I said no!” said Ms Damonte, who stills lives four doors up from the pope ‘s childhood home.
“He had a crush on me, you know. We used to play on the streets here. It was a quiet neighbourhood then, and, well, he was very nice.”
Damonte also added that she was shocked that her then boyfriend was elected the new pope of the church following the resignation of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February.
“I froze in front of the television. I couldn’t believe that Jorge was the Pope!” she said.
Meanwhile, the DailyMail reported that it is quite possible that Ms Damonte wasn’t the only love in the pope’s life, despite what the future pope told her.
In a 2010 interview, Pope Francis, an ardent supporter of the San Lorenzo de Almagro football club since his childhood , admitted he had a girlfriend with whom he loved to dance the tango – probably not a pastime for a 12-year-old.
He said: “She was one of a group of friends with whom I used to go dancing with. Then I discovered my religious vocation.”
Pope Francis, who became the 266th pope of the Catholic Church on 13 March, decided to take religious orders in 1958 when he was 21 but he was ordained by Archbishop Ramón José Castellano in 1969 when he finished his theological studies .
Bergoglio, who chose the papal name Francisco in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi, is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, and the first from the Southern Hemisphere.
Francis is the first pope born outside Europe in 1,272 years, since Syrian-born St. Gregory.
He can speak Spanish, Latin, Italian, German, French and English.