A Roman Prayer Pilgrimage for Pope Francis, on His ‘Vocation Day’


National Catholic Register, 24 September 2019

It is especially appropriate to pray for the Pope on the feast of St. Matthew on Sept. 21 — the date when 16-year-old Jorge Bergoglio discerned his priestly vocation.

ROME — It’s customary to pray in a particular way for the Holy Father on his election anniversary, his patronal day — St. George’s Day, April 23, for Jorge Bergoglio — or even on his Dec. 17 birthday.

But with Pope Francis, it seems very fitting to pray for him especially on the feast of St. Matthew, Sept. 21. We might call it his “vocation day,” and this year I was able to mark it in Rome with a little pilgrimage of prayer for our Holy Father, taking advantage of the Eternal City’s special grace of uniting Catholics with the universal pastor of the Church.

It is his “vocation day,” for it was on that day in 1953 that the 16-year-old Bergoglio knew that he would be a priest. He was passing by St. Joseph’s Basilica in Buenos Aires, a church he knew well, and felt a particular urge to enter.

“I went in. I felt it was necessary that I enter — those things you feel in you without knowing what it is,” Bergoglio would recall many decades later. “I looked — it was dark. It was a morning in September, perhaps 9 o’clock, and I saw a priest walking. I didn’t know him; he was not one of the priests of the parish. And he sat down in one of the confessionals, the last one on the left when one looks at the altar. I don’t know at all what happened next. I had the impression that someone pushed me to enter the confessional. … I went to confession — but I don’t know what happened. When I finished my confession … I knew there that I would become a priest. I was sure and certain of it.”

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