Pope Francis: There’s Meaning to the Name

A Jesuit Pope? Shocker! A Jesuit Pope who chose the name Francis? No way, he must be thinking of Francis Xavier.

Pope Francis was quick to clarify:

Some people wanted to know why the Bishop of Rome wished to be called Francis. Some thought of Francis Xavier, Francis De Sales, and also Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. During the election, I was seated next to the Archbishop Emeritus of São Paolo and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes [OFM]: a good friend, a good friend! When things were looking dangerous, he encouraged me. And when the votes reached two thirds, there was the usual applause, because the Pope had been elected. And he gave me a hug and a kiss, and said: “Don’t forget the poor!” And those words came to me: the poor, the poor.

Then, right away, thinking of the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of all the wars, as the votes were still being counted, till the end. Francis is also the man of peace. That is how the name came into my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation; these days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we? He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!

Afterwards, people were joking with me. “But you should call yourself Hadrian, because Hadrian VI was the reformer, we need a reform…” And someone else said to me: “No, no: your name should be Clement”. “But why?” “Clement XV: thus you pay back Clement XIV who suppressed the Society of Jesus!” These were jokes.

Don’t forget the poor. Such a simple yet profound statement for a new elected pontiff to be considering when discerning which name to chose.

It’s also worth pointing out that it has been over ELEVEN HUNDRED YEARS since a pope chose not to take the name of one of his predecessors. That action alone speaks volumes: In a Church where we love tradition (both with a little and a big T), Pope Francis is doing something different. He’s not looking for “business as usual” – he’s looking for reform.

“Only a fool would ever have taken the name Francis…that is, unless he was driven to clear the high bar that comes with it.” (Rocco Palmo)

What do you think about our Pope’s name choice?

Michael Marchand

Michael is a Catholic evangelist, author and speaker.

After spending 11 years as a parish youth minister, Michael left parish ministry to work full-time with ProjectYM (a ministry he cofounded a few years earlier).

Michael's resume also includes preaching gigs at events and conferences around the world, a Catholic theology degree, authoring a book on Catholic evangelization, years of training and consulting with parish/diocesan leaders on technology and social media, countless online projects, and the founding of 2 ProjectYM mission bases: one in Uganda and one in Chattanooga, TN.

Michael is blessed to be part of an amazing missionary family. Michael, his beautiful wife (Crystal) and four kids serve the local Church in Chattanooga, TN.


Michael Marchand


Michael is a Catholic evangelist, author and speaker.

After spending 11 years as a parish youth minister, Michael left parish ministry to work full-time with ProjectYM (a ministry he cofounded a few years earlier).

Michael's resume also includes preaching gigs at events and conferences around the world, a Catholic theology degree, authoring a book on Catholic evangelization, years of training and consulting with parish/diocesan leaders on technology and social media, countless online projects, and the founding of 2 ProjectYM mission bases: one in Uganda and one in Chattanooga, TN.

Michael is blessed to be part of an amazing missionary family. Michael, his beautiful wife (Crystal) and four kids serve the local Church in Chattanooga, TN.



Questions or Comments?

Join the conversation about Pope Francis: There’s Meaning to the Name over in our Facebook group. GO THERE NOW

Try Out Our New Online Membership Community for Free!

Click the button below to find out more about Thrive and claim your invite to a free trial of the new community created exclusively for Catholic youth ministers.

CLICK HERE

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Become a ProjectYM VIP



You have Successfully Subscribed!