Pope Francis praised the journalist who caught him visiting old friends who run a record store in Rome this week, joking that it was his “bad luck” that the news came out.
Tuesday evening’s visit was supposed to be kept secret, but Javier Martinez-Brocal of the television news agency Rome Reports happened to be in the central area of Rome. He filmed it with his smartphone, posted it on Twitter, and it went viral.
In a letter sent Thursday to Martinez-Brocal, François, 85, congratulated him on his work and lamented his own misfortune.
“You can’t deny that it was a case of bad luck…that after taking every precaution, there was a reporter there at the taxi stand,” Francis said in the letter Martinez-Brocal sent. shared with his colleagues on Friday.
“You shouldn’t lose your sense of humor,” Francis said. “Thank you for doing your job, even if it got the pope in trouble.”
Francis, who avoids armored cars and visible police escorts, arrived at the StereoSound record store near the ancient Pantheon in a plain white Fiat 500 driven by a Vatican employee. He stayed inside for about 15 minutes.
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The store’s owners later said they had become friends with him years ago when he was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
He visited their store to purchase classical music records and CDs when in Rome on Church business and stayed at a nearby residence for visiting clerics.
“What I miss the most (since he became pope) is not being able to walk the streets, like I did in Buenos Aires, walking from one parish to another,” wrote Francois.
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The store’s owners later said they had given the pope a CD box of classical music, but declined to elaborate.
Francis is known to love Beethoven, Mozart and Bach – and even the tango music of his native Argentina.
It was not the first time the pope had visited a store in Rome. In 2015, two years after his election, he ordered a new pair of glasses from a Roman optician. They were to be delivered to the Vatican but he decided to pick them up himself.
He also once went to a store to buy a pair of orthopedic shoes.