After a journalist reported on Pope Francis’ surprise visit to a record store, the pope surprised him back — by writing him a letter.
Javier Martínez-Brocal, director of the Rome-based news agency Rome Reports, tweeted a black-and-white photo on Jan. 11 of the pope exiting a record store near the Pantheon in Rome. The photo went viral as people wanted to know, “What did he buy?” The journalist also captured video of the encounter.
But while the pope left the shop with a disc, he came for another purpose: to visit the owner, an old friend of his, and to bless the newly-renovated store.
Following the incident, Martínez-Brocal apologized to the pope for intruding on the moment.
“I’m sorry that the Pope, who loves freedom, has to stay in his residence, because every move he makes is caught on camera,” Martínez-Brocal says in a Rome Reports video released on Jan. 14. “I wrote to him to apologize and to say that, on the other hand, a story like this, which can make people smile, is important in a time when we only hear about tragedies.”
To his surprise, the pontiff responded. Pope Francis confirmed that he saw the photo and even thanked Martínez-Brocal for his “noble” post, Vatican News reported.
Pope Francis revealed that he had attempted to keep his visit secret, joking that, “one cannot deny that it was a ‘terrible fate’ that, after taking all precautions, there was a journalist waiting for someone at the cab stop.”
He continued, “We must not lose our sense of humor,” and thanked the journalist “for fulfilling your vocation, even if it means giving the Pope a hard time.”
On a more serious note, he added that he missed freely roaming city streets.
“What I miss most in this Diocese is not being able to ‘wander the streets,’ as I did in Buenos Aires, walking from one parish to another,” he wrote.
Martínez-Brocal reacted to the pope’s letter.
“I think the Pope recognizes the importance of a journalist’s job, even if it’s sometimes uncomfortable for him or causes him problems,” he said. “But he is grateful for this service of honestly recounting events as they happen.”
The pope did not reveal the genre of music the shopkeepers gifted him with. That part of his visit, it seems, he kept a mystery.
Pope Francis is a music-enthusiast. His music library, curated by the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, houses nearly 2,000 CDs and 19 vinyl records, Catholic News Service reported. The recordings include music from the pope’s personal collection as well as music the pope has received as gifts.
Most of the library is classical, but it also includes Édith Piaf, Argentine tango tunes, and a 25-disc collection of Elvis Presley’s Gospel songs.