The pope acts as a symbol for holiness and goodness for the Catholic believers all around the world. He is the leader of the Catholic church and is among the best known public and influential figures worldwide.

The institution has been around for centuries with the pope actually being the head of state in the Vatican City. Pope Francis is the current 266th pope, and it’s sufficed to say that he is beloved by the people, both believers and non-believers from all across the world.

Most people have a picture of the pope as the guy goggling with kids, shaking hands and blessing masses as he goes. There’s more to him than that. Here are seven interesting facts about the pope you probably didn’t know:

pope facts

#1. First Latin American Pope

His real name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio hailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He’s the first Jesuit pope to lead the Catholic church, the first pope originating from the Americas and the first non-European native pope since Gregory III in 741 more than 1,000 years ago. It’s important to note that Jesuits are excellent communicators. Out of the 265 popes that have come before him, 200 were natives of Italy alone so you can see how rare and hard it is for a pope whose homeland is outside Europe to get the post.

#2. Was The Runners Up To Become Pope In 2005

He came in second in the election that elected Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) as pope in 2005 after the passing on of Pope John Paul II. This shows how popular he was at the time among his fellow Arch Bishops by receiving the second most votes.

#3. Lives In A Simple Guest House

Rather than take advantage of the perks that come with being the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis rejected staying in the upscale apartment quarters within the Vatican walls used by previous the popes. He instead decided to reside in a simple two-room apartment. He broke a century-long tradition.

#4. Named “Person of the Year”

During the time of his inauguration in 2013, he was named as the Person of the year by Time making him the first ever pope to receive such an accolade. He was honored with this title due to the impact and influence he had already made as a leader. The reason he is called ‘the people’s pope’ is because of how he loves children and allows them to get close, blessing them during ceremonies, visiting the sick and advocating for people’s rights are but a few of the things he does.

#5. He isn’t A Fan Of The Bulletproof Popemobile

The pope doesn’t like the traditional bulletproof Popemobiles because he sees them as “sardine cans” with glass enclosures which people are gawking at as he rolls by. Even though not everyone may mean to cause harm to the pope, he said he still preferred to be closer to the people on the ground. During his papacy, Pope Francis has been cruising around in cars like Jeep Wranglers and Fiats which allows human contact and personal appeal.

#6. Has One Lung

In his teenage years, Pope Francis was diagnosed with a severe infection that resulted in him undergoing surgery to remove the infected lung. Sadly, this operation wouldn’t be needed today with the current advancements in antibiotics. Medical professionals were concerned about his health at the time of the conclave but at the ripe age of 82 years, he is in good physical health.

#7. Multilingual

Pope Francis is conversant and doesn’t struggle much with many languages. Though the pope often uses Italian, Latin or Spanish to carry his roles, he is also fluent in German, Portuguese, Ukrainian, English and French. This grasp of different languages allows him to reach a wide range of his congregation globally who look up to him as a source of inspiration and moral guidance.

Pope Francis has tried to repair the tarnished history of the Catholic Church taking it upon himself to lead by example through humanitarian efforts which have made him capture the hearts of many. His humility alone is a basis for great admiration, especially by the people in Niagara Falls. By reading just a few of these facts, you can see why he is admired and respected by many.