Just like any school boy, the young Pope Francis also had teachers he loved and idolized. His respect and regard for them remain unwavering—and with good reason. After all, they played a pivotal part if his journey from student to leader of the Catholic world!
Who are these ladies who made such an impact on him? This World Teachers’ Day, we get to know the amazing women who molded Pope Francis into who he is now.
During an audience with some children on June 9, the Pope revealed the name of one of his favorite teachers—a woman named Estela. “She was great,” the Santo Papa exclaimed, “she taught us how to write and read.” He continued, “Already a teenager, then as a priest, I would phone her. Then as a bishop, I helped her when she was sick. She died when she was 94 years old.”
Lolo Kiko was a schoolboy at the Catholic Institute of Nuestra Señora de la Misericordia. Then known as Jorge, he was not the saintly little boy that everyone presumes he was. As a grown man, he would often visit his former school and playfully ask one of his teachers, Sister Rosa, what he was like as a child. The nun would answer: You were a devil. Did you get better? And the Pope would break out in great peals of laughter. She would add, “I remember when you learned your multiplication table on the stairs and you jumped the steps, two by two, repeating: two, four, six. You were tireless.”
Pope Francis also formed a special bond with his catechism teacher, Sister Dolores. According to the article “Pupil to Pope” published in the June 2018 issue of My Pope Philippines, the Pope considered Sister Dolores “a great source of support in one of the most difficult moments of his life.” In 1957, after spending a few months in the seminary, Pope Francis had to undergo a surgery to remove part of his lungs. Afraid of dying and not understanding why he had to endure such pain, he was at a loss until Sister Dolores visited him in the hospital. She explained that through his pain, Jorge was imitating Christ, the only one who could give meaning to the pain—a lesson that he took to heart and never forgot.