Jorge Mario Bergoglio grew up in a peaceful and typical Italian family in Argentina. His father worked as an accountant, while his mother took care of the children and the household. Jorge had four younger siblings—Oscar, Marta, Regina, Alberto, and Maria Elena. Five children were a lot, but luckily, the grandparents, Giovanni and Rosa Bergoglio, lived close by and always lent a hand to their daughter-in-law.
The Bergoglios were busy with school and work every week, but weekends were completely dedicated to their family life. The children played cards with their parents and watched their father play basketball. They listened to operas on the radio with their mother, and their entire brood went to the movies together.
On Sundays, the family would go to Mass in the church of San Jose. Then like any self-respecting Italian family, they would have a lengthy lunch followed by dessert. “We were poor, but we had great dignity, and [were] always faithful to what we considered Italian tradition,” relates Maria Elena, the Pope’s sister. Their mother cooked dishes in the Piedmontese style. She whipped up pastas, white risotto, ragu with cappelletti, and baked chicken. These were the recipes her mother-in-law taught her. In turn, she handed them down to her own children when she was ill after the birth of Maria Elena. The years young Jorge spent around the dining table with his family must have had a great impact on him, as Pope Francis always emphasizes how sacred shared mealtimes are when it comes to cultivating a happy family life—and we think we would have to agree!