Pope at 12 to neighbor girl: 'If I don't marry you, I'm going to be a priest'
BUENOS AIRES — An Argentine woman who grew up as the neighbor of the man who would become pope has been tracked down by local media.
She said she was the object of his affections, and that Jorge Mario Bergoglio even proposed, but she turned him down. They were 12 years old.
Amalia Damonte is now 76, just like the pope, and she still lives in a house four doors down from where Bergoglio grew up in the Flores neighborhood of Buenos Aires.
Damonte recalled a letter he wrote to her, because it got her into trouble with her parents.
“I remember perfectly that he had drawn me a little white house, which had a red roof, and it said “this is what I'll buy when we marry.”
She said he told her “If I don't marry you, I'm going to be a priest.”
She called their relationship “pure” and “childlike.”
But her parents were furious — her father spanked her, and her mother confronted her.
“My mom broke it off. Good Lord. She came to get me at the school and she said, ‘So, you're getting letters from a boy?!' ”
“My parents pulled me away completely. From that point on, they did everything possible to separate us,” she said. “What I wanted is for him to disappear from the map!”
The Bergoglio family moved away from Membrillar Street decades ago. Damonte said she moved away as well, married and raised a family, and only returned to her parents' home years later.
She followed her former neighbor's rise through the church, naturally, but never tried to speak with him again.
“I think he's really very down-to-earth, and that's how I am, too. I'm very humble,” she said.
Argentine media have been calling Damonte the “Pope's Girlfriend,” and wondering whether she'll try to see him again. She says that's ridiculous.
“He's in a very high position, and I'm still very humble,” she said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ISIS solidifies grip on Syrian town of Palmyra
- Islamic State terrorists break into Palmyra museum, Syria says
- Japan to participate in joint exercise with U.S., Australia
- Motivated Syrian Kurds take fight to ISIS in contrast to failures of Iraqi army
- Officials claim world duty to Mideast at international forum
- Dollar’s prominence grows in Venezuela
- North Korea upgrading space launch site
- Blair to quit post as U.N. special Middle East envoy
- Saudi King Salman vows retribution for suicide attack on mosque
- U.S. senator in Cuba says normal relations ‘weeks away’
- Attacks in Iraq target Shiites