Just call me Frank: Is Pope Francis the most down-to-earth ever?

 

First he named himself Francis (of down-with-the-poor Assisi fame) offering an impression of humility only enhanced by his uncanny likeness to Jim Bowen.

Then he toned down his wardrobe, ditching red shoes for black and fur collars for a modest ivory cassock. Then he phoned his local newsagent in Buenos Aires, where, as archbishop, he used to travel by bus, to cancel his own newspaper deliveries.

Now the least popey Pope in papal history has taken a break from informal public addresses and walkabouts to reveal where he’d like to live. Or, crucially, where he’d like not to live, namely the Papal penthouse, as it is not officially known. There’ll be no 16th-century polished marble floors or roof terrace with unmatched views of Rome for the world’s most powerful primate; Francis is giving up his rightful place in the opulent upper floors of the Apostolic Palace to live in a Vatican hotel, taking meals in a communal dining room.

Since his election Pope Francis has settled into relatively basic lodgings at the Domus Santa Marta a temporary residence next to St Peter’s Basilica.

Today, his spokesman said he planned to remain there for the foreseeable future, sharing corridors with fellow cardinals. It’s not quite like Ed Miliband eschewing No.10 for the Westminster Travelodge (there isn’t one) but the move breaks with a century of tradition. It also completes a dramatic about-turn in the papal approach to the trappings of high office.

Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, was known in Italian media as the Prada Pope thanks to his custom-made red slippers. After his election in 2005, he also commissioned 200 architects and specialist builders to renovate the appartamento pontificio, home to all Popes since Pius X moved in back in 1903. He installed a high-spec German kitchen and restored the vast marble library to house his collection of 20,000 books.

But the Popes of yore made even Benedict’s taste seem modest. Pope Julius II commissioned Raphael to decorate his personal chambers (while also setting Michelangelo to work on a certain ceiling) and it was in his chambers that Pope Pius IX conceived a brooch in his own image crafted in diamonds.

If he is tempted to return to official lodgings, Francis may wish to restore their pre-Benedictine decor. Before the apartments were given their makeover, Polish film director Krzysztof Zanussi, a friend of the late John Paul II, called them gloomy and sombre, comparing the chairs to “the ones my aunt had in the suburbs of Warsaw”.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week