As soon as Pope Francis was elected, he immediately broke with Vatican tradition. Instead of living in the Apostolic Palace, Lolo Kiko opted for the simpler and humbler Casa Santa Marta, his “boarding house,” as he fondly calls the place.
Pope Francis was reportedly shocked when he saw what his supposed lodgings in the Apostolic Palace were like. “The Papal Apartment is like a reversed funnel. It is large and spacious, but the entrance is really narrow. People enter in a trickle and I can’t live without people,” Pope Francis said in an interview. But before Casa Santa Marta became Lolo Kiko’s official address, it served as a “hotel” for bishops and cardinals visiting the Pope. It has 106 suites, 22 single rooms, and an official apartment.
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According to the article Pope Francis in Casa Santa Marta published in My Pope Philippines magazine, Pope Leo XIII had the building constructed as a residence for bishops, priests, and the religious in 1891. In 1992, Pope John Paul II replaced it with a much larger and more functional structure that was intended to serve as a house to cardinals during the conclave.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio stayed in apartment 207 during the 2013 conclave, and he eventually moved to apartment 201 when he decided to make Casa Santa Marta his residence as Pontiff.
The New Papal Home
The Pope’s living quarters include a suite of about 50 square meters that overlook a small plaza leading to the back entrance of St. Peter’s Basilica. It has a living room with two armchairs and one sofa, a library, a desk, and a crucifix. Next to the living room is Lolo Kiko’s bedroom, which has a closet, a small table, and a bed made of dark wood. The Pope was also given a room to receive guests—an adjacent room that he uses as a study.
In a letter to one of his friends, obtained by the Argentinian daily, Clarin, Pope Francis said that he feels “part of a family” in his stay at Casa Santa Marta. “I’m visible to people and I lead a normal life—a public mass in the morning, I eat in the refectory with everyone else, et cetera. All this is good for me and prevents me from being isolated. I’m trying to stay the same and to act as I did in Buenos Aires because if you change at my age you just look ridiculous,” he said.
What can we say? He’s a people person who definitely feels happier with others around him!