ROME — Pope Francis has long lamented that he can’t walk unnoticed through the city as he used to do before he became pope. But he seems to have retained his sense of humor after being caught on camera this week making an unannounced visit to a record store in Rome.
Francis wrote a note to the Vatican reporter on Tuesday evening that happened to be in the right place at the right time as the Pope left the Vatican to bless the newly renovated Stereo Sound store near the Pantheon.
Javier Martinez-Brocal, director of the Rome Reports news agency, filmed Francis leaving the store, in footage that went viral and was even featured in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
Martinez-Brocal then wrote the Pope a note explaining he was not a paparazzo and lamenting that Francis can no longer go unnoticed, but added that the story provided a much-needed dose of good news for a world awash in tragedy. .
“I will not deny that it was (bad luck) that after taking all precautions, a journalist was waiting for someone on the taxi line,” Francis replied. But he added, “You can’t lose your sense of humor.”
Francis wrote in his signature little script, then reiterated that what he misses most about being Pope is that he is no longer able to walk, as he used to do in Buenos Aires. Former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was known for taking public transport around the Argentine capital, eschewing the private cars that fellow cardinals usually take to visit parishes. He became Pope in 2013.
Francis acknowledged that Martinez-Brocal was only doing his job as a journalist when he captured the event. “Thank you for doing your calling, even if it got the Pope in trouble,” he joked.
The store owners later told The Associated Press that Francis had arrived unannounced about 7 p.m., having told them he would be visiting during a previous meeting at the Vatican. “He walked into the store and it was a great meeting. And as he promised, he blessed the store,” said store owner Tiziana Esposito.
Co-owner Danilo Genio said Francis was a longtime client who always stopped by when he was in Rome for meetings at the Vatican when he was a priest, archbishop and then a cardinal in Buenos Aires.
“When he came to Rome to go to the Vatican, he came here first to buy some gifts,” he said.
Francis, who grew up listening to opera on the radio and is fond of tango, Mozart and Wagner, bought nothing this time. But the shopkeepers gave him a CD of classical music.