When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Papal Work Ethic: From 4:45 AM Wakeup, Portrait Of A Tireless Pope Francis

An agenda that "would wear out any 40-something" ...
An agenda that "would wear out any 40-something" ...
Andrea Tornielli

VATICAN CITY — To the priests who invited him to take a vacation with them, the late Cardinal Alberto Idelfonso Schuster of Milan replied, smiling, that there would be plenty of time for that in the afterlife.

Pope Francis — the Jesuit whose agenda would wear out any 40-something — seems to be inspired by the same model as Cardinal Schuster, even though his 77 years constrain him sometimes, as happened last Friday when his visit to Rome’s Policlinico Gemelli hospital was cancelled.

"He decides his own agenda," Vatican's spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi told La Stampa, "and has a very intense pace of life because he feels he has been called to serve the Lord with all his might. He never took holidays when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires either."

Even on Tuesdays, the day of the week traditionally free of commitments or private audiences scheduled so the popes could relax a little bit, Francis doesn’t slow down. Instead of using this free morning to rest, he fills it with rescheduled meetings.

"Francis follows the active lifestyle of St. Ignatius of Loyolafounder of the Jesuits which, in its Constitution of Order, defines Jesuits as ‘workers in the vineyard of the Lord,’" observes Lombardi. "He devotes himself completely to his mission — even beyond his own force."

Over the past hundred years, papal agendas have been saturated with countless commitments, public events and speeches. Just one look at the statistics can help you understand. The most significant in the reign of Pope Francis is his daily Mass, celebrated in the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta, where he lives, in the presence of some 60 faithful.

[rebelmouse-image 27088075 alt="""" original_size="640x847" expand=1]

Pope Francis entering the Casa Santa Marta — Photo: Pufui Pc Pifpef I

By the numbers

His predecessors too said Mass every day in the private chapel of the pontifical apartment — but they did not preach, and they had neither the camera nor microphones of the Vatican Radio watching and listening. If they were unwell or late, nobody would have noticed.

Since March 2013, Francis has celebrated Mass in the Casa Santa Marta 229 times — giving as many homilies — and he personally greets everyone in attendance. Tallying up those numbers, at an estimate, means he has welcomed about 12,000 people in the mornings since he was elected 476 days ago.

Then there’s the 95 great liturgical celebrations, both in Rome and away. Of those, he has given homilies in 73 of them.

In the past 15 months, Francis has written an encyclical (Lumen fidei) and an apostolic exhortation (Evangelii gaudium), three apostolic letters and four "motu proprio" letters, as well as 45 official letters. That’s not including the 55 messages (including several video ones) he also sent out.

He has given 231 speeches, and 73 blessings before the Angelus. And though, of course, the pontiff employs collaborators for these texts, they must follow his directions, thus further engaging his time.

Another of his reforms concerns the Wednesday general audiences. Up until now, Francis has held 54. Estimates from the Prefecture of the Papal Household say that between the Angelus and the General Audiences, six million people have come to see him. He has greatly expanded the time spent meeting with the faithful at St. Peter’s Square. The popemobile covers the whole piazza, and he tries to greet everyone, getting closer to those who are the furthest away.

[rebelmouse-image 27088076 alt="""" original_size="4000x3000" expand=1]

Greeting people on St. Peter's Square — Fczarnowski

Even in winter, because of the massive turnouts, these meetings are held outside in the square rather than the often used Paul VI Audience Hall. The pope has spent at the very least 150 hours outdoors on these occasions, no matter the weather. And sometimes, he has taken part despite being unwell. It is impossible to calculate the number of people individually received at these hearings, not to mention the number of ill people the man born Jorge Bergoglio has met.

A "good tired"

The onerous expanse of his personal correspondence has also come to light: Pope Francis personally reads almost 50 letters every day, from the 4,000 that come every week, and he always gives instructions as how to respond to them. Sometimes, he calls people back on the phone too.

Then, there are the trips. He has taken two abroad (to Brazil last summer and, recently, to the Holy Land) and four in Italy. Five visits to Roman parishes — we mustn’t forget that he is, after all, the Bishop of Rome — and he has ushered in a new style, appearing on a Saturday afternoon and staying for several hours, at the disposal of the faithful there.

When he is in the Vatican, the pope wakes up at 4:45 a.m. and gets dressed. The first thing he does is read the "encrypted" nunciatures that come from all over the world, then he prays and meditates for an hour, preparing his homily for Santa Marta. At 7 a.m., alone, he comes down to celebrate the Mass. After greeting everyone, he has breakfast and then begins the morning’s work with his audiences.

At 1 p.m. there’s lunch, followed by a 30-minute nap. In the afternoon, after some time for prayer, he resumes his meetings, then he works on his correspondences and phone calls. At the end of the day, before dinner at 8 p.m., there’s usually an hour of adoration in the chapel.

"Sometimes not everything can be done," Francis confided to a group of seminarians, "because I let myself be led by imprudent exigencies: too much work, or to think that if I don’t do this today, I won’t do it tomorrow … Adoration fails, my siesta fails, this fails …"

"The ideal," he added, "is to finish your day tired. Not so tired that you have to take pills, but a good tired. If it is a reckless tiredness, it is bad for your health and you will end up paying dearly in the long run. This is the idea, but I don’t always manage to do it — even I am a sinner and not always so organized!"

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

What Are Iran's Real Intentions? Watch What The Houthis Do Next

Three commercial ships traveling through the Red Sea were attacked by missiles launched by Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels, while the U.S. Navy shot down three drones. Tensions that are linked to the ongoing war in Gaza conflict and that may serve as an indication as to Iran's wider intentions.

photo of Raisi of iran speaking in parliament

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at the Iranian parliament in Tehran.

Icana News Agency via ZUMA
Pierre Haski


PARIS — It’s a parallel war that has so far claimed fewer victims and attracted less public attention than the one in Gaza. Yet it increasingly poses a serious threat of escalating at any time.

This conflict playing out in the international waters of the Red Sea, a strategic maritime route, features the U.S. Navy pitted against Yemen's Houthi rebels. But the stakes go beyond the Yemeni militants — with the latter being supported by Iran, which has a hand in virtually every hotspot in the region.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, the Houthis have been making headlines, despite Yemen’s distance from the Gaza front. Starting with missiles launched directed toward southern Israel, which were intercepted by U.S. forces. Then came attacks on ships belonging, or suspected of belonging, to Israeli interests.

On Sunday, no fewer than three commercial ships were targeted by ballistic missiles in the Red Sea. The missiles caused minor damage and no casualties. Meanwhile, three drones were intercepted and destroyed by the U.S. Navy, currently deployed in full force in the region.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for these attacks, stating their intention to block Israeli ships' passage for as long as there was war in Gaza. The ships targeted on Sunday were registered in Panama, but at least one of them was Israeli. In the days before, several other ships were attacked and an Israeli cargo ship carrying cars was seized, and is still being held in the Yemeni port of Hodeida.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest