Bea Gormley tells the story of Pope Francis, known as the People’s Pope, who has humbly said, “My people are poor and I am one of them.”
Ordained as Pope on March 13, 2013, Pope Francis became the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Known worldwide for his great humility and approachability, he is the first citizen from the Americas, the first non-European, and first Jesuit priest to be named Pope.
Gormley explores Bergoglio’s, his given surname, early years, growing up as the eldest of five children of Italian immigrants in Argentina, working as a chemical technician before venturing in the priesthood as a Jesuit novice. He went from Bishop to Archbishop to Cardinal—and gained a reputation for personal humility, doctrinal conservatism, and a commitment to social justice, which stands to this day.
Named Person of the Year by Time magazine in December 2013, Pope Francis remains outspoken in support of the world’s poor and marginalized people, and he has been involved actively in areas of political diplomacy and environmental advocacy.
Part of series: Real-Life Story
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Mild language, Violence, Mass murder, Kidnapping, Torture, References to sexual abuse
Kirkus Reviews (September 15, 2017)
Pope Francis’ life story. Pope Francis is the first non-European, Jesuit man to be ordained as leader of the Roman Catholic Church. This biography takes middle-grade readers on Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s spiritual and physical journey toward the papacy. Gormley charts Bergoglio’s spiritual development well, beginning with his grandmother, who sparked in him the importance of faith at a young age, and moving from there as political turbulence roiled Argentina. The author provides plenty of context for Argentina’s political and social discord but never loses focus on her subject. While Argentina’s story is important to Bergoglio’s history, it never overwhelms the man. Pope Francis’ reputation as the “People’s Pope,” a man honest about his background, interests, and past, helps the author paint a picture of her subject as a well-rounded, well-intentioned man. There are no grave missteps or shady secrets to reveal here, just a man who always did what he thought was best for the people around him and used his faith as his guide. It is a bit long-winded. The 257 pages of main narrative really hold only about 175 pages of essential story. The “and then this happened” structure of standard biographies is certainly felt, and while that works well for an educational text for children using this for a school project, those looking for a ripping yarn about the pope may want to keep looking. A serviceable biography that will serve the student who chooses Pope Francis as a subject well. (timeline, sources, photos) (Biography. 10-14)
About the Author
Born in Glendale, California, Beatrice grew up in Southern California. After graduating from Pomona College, she worked in publishing near San Francisco. There she met and married Robert Gormley, and they moved to Massachusetts. They have two daughters.
Since age 9 Beatrice had wanted to become a writer. But it wasn’t until after her children were born that she really focused on her writing. In 1981 her first book, Mail Order Wings,was published. Since then she’s written many popular novels and biographies for young people. Her most recent books are Friends of Liberty, a novel of the Boston Tea Party, and the biography Nelson Mandela: South African Revolutionary.
Her website is www.beatricegormley.com
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