ROME — Pope Francis has long lamented that he can’t walk around town unnoticed like he used to before becoming pope. After being caught making an unannounced trip to a Rome record store this week, he seemed to retain his humor.
Francis wrote a note to the Vatican reporter who happened to be in the right place at the right time Tuesday evening when the pope slipped out of the Vatican to bless the newly renovated Stereo Sound shop near the Pantheon.
Javier Martinez-Brocal, director of the Rome Reports news agency, filmed Francis leaving the shop, in footage that went viral and even got written up in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
Martinez-Brocal wrote the pope a note afterward, explaining that he wasn’t a paparazzo and regretting Francis can’t move around unnoticed anymore, but adding that the story provided a much-needed dose of good news for a world inundated with tragedy.
“I won’t deny that it was (bad luck) that after taking all the precautions, there was a journalist waiting for someone on the taxi line,” Francis replied. But he added: “You can’t lose your sense of humor.”
Writing in his trademark tiny script, Francis then repeated that what he misses most about being pope is no longer being able to take walks, as he used to do in Buenos Aires. Former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a former cardinal, was well-known for using public transportation to get around Buenos Aires. He also avoided private cars which his fellow cardinals used to travel to parishes. He became pope in 2013.
Francis acknowledged that Martinez-Brocal was only doing his job as a journalist when he recorded the event. He said, “Thanks for fulfilling your calling even though it caused the pope to be in trouble.”
The shop owners later told The Associated Press that Francis had arrived unannounced at around 7 p.m., after he had told them during a previous encounter at the Vatican that he would come to visit. He walked into the shop, and it was an incredible meeting. Tiziana Esposito, shop owner said that he did as promised and blessed the shop.
Co-owner Danilo Genio said Francis was a longtime customer who had popped in whenever he was in Rome for meetings at the Vatican when he was a priest, archbishop and then cardinal in Buenos Aires.
“When he came to Rome to go to the Vatican he used to come here first to buy some gifts,” he said.
Francis, who grew up listening to opera on the radio and loves tango, Mozart and Wagner, didn’t buy anything this time around. However, the shop owners gifted him a CD with classical music.
Paolo Santalucia contributed to this story.