On Dec. 13, 1969, just four days before his 33rd birthday, Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio — who today is Pope Francis — was ordained a priest by Archbishop Ramón José Castellano, archbishop emeritus of Córdoba (Argentina).
That Dec. 13, 53 years ago, was a Saturday, the eve of the Third Sunday of Advent. In the liturgy of the Church this day is known as Gaudete or Joy Sunday, for many the hallmark of Pope Francis’ pontificate, along with mercy.
According to the book “The Jesuit: Conversations with Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio,” Pope Francis discovered his vocation to the priesthood while on his way to celebrate Gaudete Day.
When he passed by a church in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Flores to go to confession, he received special inspiration from the priest who welcomed him.
On another occasion the Holy Father recounted that initially his mother did not support his decision to enter the priesthood, even though she was a devout Catholic. However, when her son was ordained, she accepted his call and asked for his blessing at the end of the ceremony.
Bergoglio continued his Jesuit formation from 1970 to 1971 in Spain. On April 22, 1973, he made his perpetual profession in the Society of Jesus.
When he returned to Argentina he served as a professor at the San José School of Theology in the town of San Miguel (on the outskirts of the city of Buenos Aires), rector of the college, and on July 31, 1973, at the age of 36, he was appointed provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina.
On May 20, 1992, Pope John Paul II appointed him auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, and he received his episcopal consecration on June 27 of that year from the local archbishop, Cardinal Antonio Quarracino.
Bergoglio was appointed coadjutor archbishop of Buenos Aires on June 3, 1997. He assumed the pastoral government of the archdiocese in February 1998 upon the death of Cardinal Quarracino.
Then, in the consistory of Feb. 21, 2001, he was created cardinal by Pope John Paul II.
As a cardinal he participated in the conclave that elected Benedict XVI in April 2005 and on March 13, 2013, he was elected successor of Peter, assuming the name Francis.
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