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11 Years as Pope Francis, in images

11th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 03/13/24

A lot has been packed into 11 years. Take a look at our photo galleries to see some of the thematic highlights of this pope of surprises.

Pope Francis, now 87, is one of the few popes of history to live to such an age. He’s the 8th oldest Successor of Peter (counting Benedict XVI’s unique situation as pope emeritus) in the 2,000-year history of the Church.

However, with only 11 years (so far) on the Throne of Peter, he is far from being on the list of longest reigning popes. (That title is held by St. Peter himself, followed by Pius IX and then St. John Paul II from our own day).

Nevertheless, a lot has been packed into 11 years!

For example, he’s made a whopping 44 international trips. (See maps and comparisons here.)

He’s visited around 60 countries!

A person who knows how to cry and how to smile is someone who has his feet on the ground and his eyes on the horizon of the future. If a person forgets to cry, it’s no good … and it’s even worse when you forget to smile.

A simple priest

While in the 21st century, the figure of the Vicar of Christ has taken on a certain celebrity status, a pope is really just a bishop, a pastor, a spiritual leader and shepherd of souls. This is certainly the way Pope Francis conceives himself. He’s spent twice the amount of time a local bishop as he has pope (he was made an auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires on May 20, 1992, and continued serving as bishop there until his election to the Diocese of Rome).

Immersed in the mystery of the Church, Mother and Bride, let us also say, with St. John XXIII: May the Church be overcome with joy!

“I’m a son of the Church”

The first Latin American pope. The first Jesuit pope. The first pope named Francis.

No doubt Pope Francis is a man of firsts. At the same time, he’s made clear over these last 11 years that his spiritual life is steeped in the rich, simple, ancient tradition of the Church. He’s a lover of Mary, St. Joseph, and traditional devotions. He encourages over and over again Eucharistic adoration and the Rosary. His homilies reflect a prayer life rooted in Scripture.

Did you know he entrusted his pontificate to Our Lady of Aparecida?

Christ made himself vulnerable, unto the Passion; he embraced our frailty so that, because of him, we can do the same …

The least of these

So much could be said about the last 11 years. But certainly a highlight of this pontificate is Pope Francis’ devotion to the “least of these,” people “at the peripheries,” as he has phrased it. This group in some way includes everyone — all of us — because ultimately, it is the sinner who is most at the periphery.

But, specific groups of “little ones” definitely move the Pope’s heart: victims of war, migrants, the elderly, the unborn. He laments that in our “throwaway” culture, people too are thrown away.

Pope Francis
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