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The day a Burger King became the Pope’s sacristy


Shutterstock | Drozhzhina Elena

Pablo Cesio - published on 05/27/23

It’s an unlikely story, perfect for International Burger Day (May 28).

The setting was Pope Francis’ visit to Bolivia in July 2015. On that occasion, a rather curious event took place involving the Pope himself and a Burger King branch (an event covered by Aleteia in Spanish at the time).

Mass with Pope Francis in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The statue of Christ (left) gives its name to the branch of Burger King located nearby.

Prior to an outdoor Mass for massive crowds in the town of Santa Cruz, this fast food restaurant branch was chosen to be the sacristy, where the Pope stayed before and after the Mass, together with bishops and organizers. Moreover, to add another touch of serendipity to the story, the branch is called “El Cristo” (because of a statue of Christ with upraised arms, located in the center of the traffic intersection where the restaurant is located).

Of course, the interior of the branch was adapted and redecorated for the occasion. It remained closed throughout the day, and thanks to some white curtains over the large windows, it provided some privacy.

The images shared by reporter Pablo Ordaz on Twitter soon traveled around the world and were picked up by major news outlets.

Here’s a video from Rome Reports showing the restaurant in use as a sacristy, unrecognizable if not for the logo on the outside. In the video, curtains are briefly pulled aside to reveal brightly colored decals on the windows, hidden from view for the occasion.

As expected, the company took advantage of the Pope’s visit to spread messages such as:

“Welcome Pope Francis, thank you for choosing Burger King El Cristo restaurant as your sacristy. Burger King welcomes you with open arms.”

As well as:

“There are visits that not only brighten your spirit, they nourish it.”

And finally, the big question: Was there a hamburger for the Pope afterwards? We don’t know, but we haven’t seen any evidence that there was. Also, what is publicly known about the Pope’s diet is that he likes more home-style cuisine. Soup and stuffed suckling pig are some of his favorite dishes.

But we do know for certain that this curious event is worth remembering this May 28, International Burger Day.

FoodPope Francis
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