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Pope-mania has hit the United States of America. There are emojis, t-shirts, and memes floating around the internet – all proof that something different is happening with this Pontiff. Pope Francis is not like the others who ascended to Papal authority. And this morning, as he spoke at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., people had the chance to witness first-hand just how original he is.

What makes him unique? Read on to find out…

1. He is educated. Argentinian-born Jorge Mario Bergoglio graduated with a chemical technician’s diploma and has a fond affection for science. The Vatican site reports:

He completed his studies of the humanities in Chile and returned to Argentina in 1963 to graduate with a degree in philosophy from the Colegio de San José in San Miguel. From 1964 to 1965 he taught literature and psychology at Immaculate Conception College in Santa Fé and in 1966 he taught the same subject at the Colegio del Salvatore in Buenos Aires. From 1967-70 he studied theology and obtained a degree from the Colegio of San José.

Pope Francis possesses a drive to save the environment because he truly understands what is at stake. Never before have we had a Pontiff committed to discussing global warming.

2. The pope understands love of the opposite sex. He fell in love with a girl from his neighborhood and reportedly told her, “If I don’t marry you, I’m going to be a priest.” Pope Francis admitted in a book published last year about his life that he had been “dazzled” by a young woman while studying to be a priest and calls celibacy “a matter of discipline, not faith,” saying “it can change.”

He said in the interview with Aleteia News:

“I was dazzled by a girl I met at an uncle’s wedding, I was surprised by her beauty, her intellectual brilliance … and, well, I was bowled over for quite a while. I kept thinking and thinking about her. When I returned to the seminary after the wedding, I could not pray for over a week because when I tried to do so, the girl appeared in my head. I had to rethink what I was doing.”

He said he had to choose between the girl and the priesthood, and though he picked the latter, he knows not everyone would.

“When something like this happens to a seminarian, I help him go in peace to be a good Christian and not a bad priest,” he said.

3. He lives with a permanent illness and a constant ailment. The Pontiff has only one functioning lung; he had part of his right lung removed in his youth due to an infection, and had numerous cysts after a serious fight with pneumonia. He also has foot issues that demand he wear orthodontic shoes at all times.

4. He understands what a struggle it is to put yourself through college and pay bills by hustling to get money. Pope Francis worked as a bouncer in a Buenos Aries bar to help pay for his education. He has also swept floors and ran tests in a chemical laboratory. As leader of the Jesuit community in Argentina, he woke at 5:30 a.m. to do the priests’ laundry.

These factors give him an understanding of the human condition, unlike any of his predecessors. He is a man of the people because he comes from and has lived like the people. That is Pope Francis. This is why he chooses to go to an eyeglasses store, just like us. That is why he makes his own bed, and eats in the Vatican cafeteria with the workers.

All these things make him an interesting man both inside and outside the church – and are reasons you should follow his trip to the United States.

SOURCE: Aleteia NewsThe Vatican | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

The 4 Things That Make Pope Francis Different  was originally published on