Pope Francis admitted Thursday that he took the rosary cross
of his late confessor from the dead man’s casket and still wears it in a fabric pouch under his cassock.
Francis made the confession during an informal chat with Roman priest about the need to be merciful to their flocks. He said he told the late priest: “Give me half your mercy.”
When the priest died, Francis went to pray by his open casket and was stunned that no one had brought any flowers.
“This man forgave the sins of all the priests of Buenos Aires, but not a single flower?” Francis recalled.
So he went out and bought a bouquet of roses, and when he returned to arrange them around the casket, he saw the rosary the priest still held in his hand.
“And immediately there came to mind the thief we all have inside ourselves and while I arranged the flowers I took the cross and with just a bit of force I removed it,” he said, showing with his hands how he pulled the cross off the rosary.
“And in that moment I looked at him and I said: ‘Give me half your mercy.’”
Francis said he kept the cross in his shirt pocket for years, but that the cassock he wears now as pope doesn’t have a pocket. He now keeps it in a little pouch underneath.
“And whenever a bad thought comes to mind about someone, my hand goes here, always,” he said, gesturing to his heart.
“And I feel the grace, and that makes me feel better.”