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A frugal pope buys his own shoes

The shoes of Pope Francis are seen as he conducts a general audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on March 16, 2013. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Max Rossi

ROME (RNS) As cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, he took the subway. Then as pope, he went out to buy his own eyeglasses. And now he picked up a pair of shoes.

Pope Francis caused a sensation after he left the Vatican late Tuesday (Dec. 20) and showed up in a pharmacy in the heart of Rome.

Shop assistants and customers were astonished to see the 80-year-old pontiff there to purchase a pair of orthopedic shoes he needs to relieve pain caused by chronic sciatica.

The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics blessed an employee’s crucifix and happily posed for selfies and videos.

Rome resident Martina Duarte posted her delight on her Facebook page with a video of the pope and the caption: “A Tuesday with the Pope … my love I am incredibly proud of you!”

“A pope who goes to buy himself a pair of orthopedic shoes is like any citizen. A man among the people!” tweeted another fan.

“A pope who goes to buy himself a pair of orthopedic shoes is like any citizen. A man among the people!”

Since his election in 2013 the former Jorge Bergoglio has made a point of leading a simple life, shunning the opulent papal apartments for a modest room in his residence, carrying his own briefcase and traveling in a simple Ford Fiesta.


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About the author

Josephine McKenna

Josephine McKenna has more than 30 years' experience in print, broadcast and interactive media. Based in Rome since 2007, she covered the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and election of Pope Francis and canonizations of their predecessors. Now she covers all things Vatican for RNS.

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