In a wide-ranging interview with the Italian Catholic magazine, Credere, published on February 8, 2024, Pope Francis shared some of the Gospel characters that he identifies with the most and how their stories resonate particularly with him. The Pontiff cites three women and three men, with a different explanation for each.
“There is not just one, there are several that I really like,” Francis said.
“I’m mentioning several women”
The Pope mentioned three women from the Gospels, two of which are anonymous. The first is the widow of Nain who weeps for her dead son who Jesus then resurrects, as described in Chapter 7 of the Gospel of Luke. The Pope said he appreciated her “ability to mourn the people who are lost.”
“I also like the woman who secretly touched Jesus’ cloak,” he continued, referencing Chapter 5 of the Gospel of Mark. In this Gospel, a woman suffering from hemorrhages discreetly touches Jesus’ cloak thinking that this may heal her. When it does, Jesus tells her her faith has saved her. “Sometimes in prayer we do these things that are a little bold in order for the Lord to hear us,” the Pope said.
The Pope then also highlighted Martha. In Chapter 10 of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus visits Martha and her sister Mary in their home. “Mary, yes, is contemplative but the one who works and gets things done is Martha,” the Pope explained. “She reminds me very much of men and women who work so hard carrying on the work for the faith in the Church.”
“I’m mentioning several women — curious, right?” he reflected.
In the interview the Pope also spoke about how it is important to have women in administrative and directive spaces in the Church, highlighting, as he has in the past, the “Petrine principle” and the “Marian principle” of how men and women both have important distinct roles to play.
You can read more about the Pope’s devotion to these women, and other reflections about them:
About the widow of Nain: Pope at Mass for Benedict XVI: Jesus halts before tragedy of death (Photos)
An Aleteia write and doctor considers what the woman might have been suffering from: A doctor considers Bible account of woman with 12-year hemorrhage
And how Pope Francis changed St. Martha’s July 29 feast: St. Martha’s feast day broadened to include siblings Mary and Lazarus
Two apostles and Lazarus
In fact, Martha isn’t the only one of the Bethany siblings that moves the Pope. The first Gospel character he cited in his response was Lazarus, who Jesus resurrects four days after his death, as described in Chapter 11 of the Gospel of John. “This makes me think of my life of conversion, of how the Lord pulled me from the grave,” the Pope explained.
Francis then also cited two apostles: Peter for his “boldness” and John for his “contemplativeness.” However, the Pope says it is not just that he “likes” these two characters, but that they guide him in his mission. “I feel them close to me,” he said.
As a bonus, the Pontiff also cited a “modern saint,” not present in the Gospel, but as a source of inspiration: St. Francis.
Other topics in the interview
When asked about his health and his mobility limitations, as he often uses a wheelchair or cane, Pope Francis reiterated that “the Church is governed with the head and not with the legs.”
However, he also added that the Church “needs to help in the pastoral [sphere] the people who are limited: avoiding hiding them or ‘filing’ them away.”
“One could think about some sort of activity for these people, so that they can feel they belong. A Christian is never ‘filed away,’” the Pope said.
In the interview the Pope also discussed other topics such as Fiducia Supplicans, where he highlighted what he called the hypocrisy of those who are scandalized by a blessing to a homosexual person, but not if one blesses a corrupt entrepreneur.
The Pontiff also emphasized the need to pray this year in preparation for the Jubilee 2025 and how Christian movements and their participants must not be detached from the Church.