Pope Says He Took Name from St Francis of Assisi, Explains Why

After all the chitter chatter about the Holy Father’s choice of Francis as his name, we now have an explanation from someone who knows.

Pope Francis explained his name choice today. He verified that he chose the name because of St Francis of Assisi. He said that the intention of choosing the name Francis “came to my heart” as the voting showed that he would probably be elected pope.

He explained that he chose the name because St Francis was “the man of the poor. The man of peace. The man who loved and cared for creation and in this moment we don’t have such a great relationship with the Creator. The man who gives us this spirit of peace, the man who wanted a poor church.”

The following article from The Guardian has details:

Pope Francis described on Saturday how he was inspired to take the name of Saint Francis of Assisi by the importance of helping the poor.

At his first press conference in the Vatican, Pope Francis broke from his prepared comments to describe the final hours of the conclave that elected him pope. He said: “Let me tell you a story.”

Francis said he was comforted by his friend, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, as it appeared the voting was favouring him and it seemed “a bit dangerous” that he would reach the two-thirds necessary to be elected.

“He hugged me. He kissed me. He said don’t forget about the poor,” Francis recalled. “And that’s how in my heart came the name Francis of Assisi.”

He said some people have asked why he took the name, Francis, since it also could suggest references to other figures including the co-founder of the pope’s Jesuit order, Francis Xavier. But he said his intention came to his heart as an inspiration immediately after the election. St. Francis of Assisi, the pope said, was “the man of the poor. The man of peace. The man who loved and cared for creation and in this moment we don’t have such a great relationship with the creator. The man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man who wanted a poor church.”

He then joked that some other cardinals suggested other names: Hadrian VI, after a great church reformer, a reference to the need for the pope to clean up the Vatican’s messy bureaucracy. Someone else suggested Clement XV, to counter Clement XIV who suppressed the Jesuit order. (Read the rest here.)

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  • Dale

    Rebecca, thank you for passing along this information. I know there were conflicting reports, shortly after Pope Francis’ election, as to why he chose that name.

    Since The Guardian newspaper has a certain reputation here in the US, I decided to confirm the report via the Catholic press. Here is a quote from the UK’s Catholic Herald:

    “When it became clear the cardinals had elected him Pope, he said, Cardinal Hummes “embraced me and kissed me and said: ‘Don’t forget the poor’… and that struck me… the poor…Immediately I thought of St Francis of Assisi. Francis was a man of peace, a man of poverty, a man who loved and protected creation.”

    That was when he chose the name Francis, he explained, adding: “How I would love a Church that is poor and for the poor.”

  • Bill S

    Francis of Assisi was my favorite saint until I found out about my great grandmother’s cousin, Francesco Forgione (Padre Pio). As an old hippie, my favorite Catholic movie was “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” directed by Franco Zafferelli who also directed the TV mini series “Jesus of Nazareth”. Music by Donovan of “Mellow Yellow” and “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” fame.

  • pagansister

    Cool that he chose a name that no other pope has used—-

  • Peg

    Oh man Bill,
    You are related by blood to Padre Pio and STILL you don’t believe? All the healings, bilocations, Stigmata and confessional miracles and witness testimony— surely not parlor tricks?

    I’m going to pray for his intercession for you— how cool to be related to him. I’ll ask Francis too. I think this Francis, through peace and poverty, will bring back a lot of souls nd rebuild our church.

    Another good movie is Saving Grace with Tom Conti about a pope who accidentally gets locked out of the vatican goes undercover in a poor village and when he returns says, “let me tell you a story…it’s good story”

  • William Jarvis

    It may sound unbelievable but on the morning of the start of conclave I woke having dreamed the name st Francis of Assisi. I told my wife upon waking, who asked my theory, i could only put it down to ig maybe an African pope and the image we are familiar with of a black saint with birds al around.
    Anyway, I am a teacher in a Catholic school so during morning prayers I told my class my dream.. Imagine the shock twelve hours later when his name was announced.
    I have had lots of people in school saying I should buy lottery tickets!

  • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

    I actually did say on these columns that |I’d like a Pope Francis. And while I don’t doubt the Pope’s statement, there are two great Jesuit saints by that name – Francis Xavier and Francis Borja (fifth general of the Order).

  • Bill S

    Thanks for your prayers, Peg. The way I learned about Pio from my great uncle, Tony Forgione, was a small miracle. However, I am quite sure that there is no supernatural anything so Padre Pio would have to be considered a pious fraud. I know that must frustrate you but this worldview works for me.

  • pagansister

    HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY to one and all! :-)

  • http://tljax.wordpress.com tl

    I am excited about the new papacy and Pope Francis’ decision to be named for the saint of Assisi. Many times I have prayed the prayer that bears this name, and have come to respect the heart that wrote it, and therefore any that seek to emulate it.
    (reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_of_Saint_Francis)

  • Peg

    It doesn’t frustrate me at all Bill. I think it’s totally cool that you are related to Padre Pio and he’s a great intercessor. He could literally slap some sense into people and I smile because his gruff bit all for Christ approach seems just right for you. Ciao

  • http://prayerplace.wordpress.com/ Deacon Matt

    I was quite surprised that he chose the name Francis in spite of (or maybe because of) the fact that over breakfast that morning I wondered aloud to my wife if the next Pope would call himself Francis. (-: