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Pope Francis briefly worked as a bouncer at a Buenos Aires nightclub when a young man

Domagoj Valjak
Photo:Casa Rosada (Argentina Presidency of the Nation)  CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo:Casa Rosada (Argentina Presidency of the Nation) CC BY-SA 2.0

For many of us, it is hard to believe that some of the world’s most accomplished individuals we all admire today were once no different than any other human being and had to work strange and surprisingly odd jobs just to make ends meet, but even the most famous and influential figures of today’s society had to start somewhere like everyone among us does.

There is no a shortcut to success. For example, Barack Obama, the former President of the United States, scooped ice cream in his teenage years; Christopher Walken once worked in the circus as a lion tamer; and before making it big time, Madonna worked at Dunkin’ Donuts. There are numerous similar and surprising stories, but it seems that none of them is as interesting as the story of Pope Francis, who once worked as a bouncer at a nightclub in Buenos Aires.

Pope Francis was elected as the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church in March of 2013, after his predecessor, Benedict XVI, voluntarily resigned from the position. He is the 266th Pope of Rome and also holds the titles of the Bishop of Rome and the sovereign of Vatican City.

Throughout his papacy, he has been known for his modesty, unprecedented tolerance, and commitment to the needs of the poor. He openly opposes extremely liberal ideologies and often criticizes free-market capitalism. Upon the beginning of his papacy, he refused to wear the extravagant papal ceremonial robes and, instead, he chose to wear a more plain uniform.

Pope Francis in a meeting with President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina in the Casa Rosada. Author: Casa Rosada – CC BY-SA 2.0

Pope Francis in a meeting with President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina in the Casa Rosada. Author: Casa Rosada – CC BY-SA 2.0

This refusal was in agreement with the doctrines of Jesuits and Ignatian, which criticize the overly elaborate decoration of churches and the lavishness of ceremonial and ritual robes. Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope ever, and he has strong opinions on capitalist accumulation of wealth.

Pope Francis, whose given name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, joined the Jesuit order in 1960, when he was 24 years old. Prior to joining the priesthood, he lived a complicated life full of unfavorable circumstances. His family had fled the Fascist Italy of Benito Mussolini seven years before he was born; as immigrants, they struggled with severe economic difficulties.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio (fourth boy from the left on the third row from the top) at age 12, while studying at the Salesian College

Jorge Mario Bergoglio (fourth boy from the left on the third row from the top) at age 12, while studying at the Salesian College

Also, in his early twenties, he overcame a severe health crisis; he suffered from several malign cysts and life-threatening pneumonia, which only receded when a part of his lungs was surgically removed. At that time, he didn’t have a permanent job and earned money to support himself by working various low-paid jobs in Buenos Aires.

Since he obtained a diploma as a chemical technician, he briefly ran tests in a chemical laboratory. In 2013, the New York Post reported that “His Holiness told parishioners recently that he held a variety of odd jobs before embracing the call to the priesthood.”

Pope Francis visits a favela in Brazil during the World Youth Day, 2013. Author: Tânia Rêgo/ABr – Agência Brasil – CC BY 3.0 br

Pope Francis visits a favela in Brazil during the World Youth Day, 2013. Author: Tânia Rêgo/ABr – Agência Brasil – CC BY 3.0 br

One of these jobs was the role of a bouncer at a popular local nightclub. He reportedly worked as a bouncer for almost a year: at night his task was to secure order at the venue, and in the daytime, he would take over some janitorial duties and clean the tables and the floor.

Read another story from us: Pope Stephen IV exhumed his predecessor, found him guilty of heresy and punished his corpse

It’s hard to imagine the Pope, who is the head of the Catholic Church and one of the most influential figures of the world’s religious domain, working low-paid jobs which seem to be reserved for us, the mere mortals. However, Pope Francis’ beginnings were pretty rough, and he struggled to achieve his current status. Despite being the Pope, he frequently remembers his years of destitution and continues to emphasize the importance of benevolence, charity, generosity, and kindness in today’s world of opportunism.