Time magazine named Pope Francis as its “Person of the Year” for 2013. The pope is the head of the Catholic Church, and lives in the Vatican City. In March this year, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Cardinal from Argentina, was selected as the new pope, and he chose to be called Pope Francis. Pope Francis is almost 77-years old. He believes in living a simple lifestyle. He refused to stay in the official home of the pope, and instead lives in a guesthouse. He could go around in expensive cars, but he has chosen simpler cars as his mode of transportation. He has met and hugged people with disabilities, and he has washed and kissed the feet of prisoners. Pope Francis has spread the message of mercy, tolerance, compassion, and acceptance in his 9 months of service.
Before he became pope, Pope Francis lived in a small home in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. He cooked many of his own meals and took the bus to get around. Pope Francis had studied chemistry before he became a priest. The Pope chose the name “Francis” after the famous Italian preacher St. Francis of Assisi, who devoted his life to the poor and died in 1226.
Two others who were close contenders for Time’s Person of the Year were Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, and Edward Snowden (see image), an American who disclosed information about how the American National Security Agency spies on citizens of many nations including the United States.
The Person of the Year award by Time magazine has been awarded since 1927. The award is given to individuals (or sometimes groups of people or even things) that significantly influence the world, for better or worse. There have been some interesting winners in the past that were not individuals. In 1982, the award went to the computer for the impact it was having on us. In 1988, planet Earth was the winner because our environment and its protection became a significant subject. In 2006, the Person of the Year was “You”, as in all of us. This was to recognize the impact that user-generated information had caused because of the Internet. In 2011, the winner was “The Protester”. Protests had been held in many countries around the globe and some had led to governments changing.
Image Credits: Laura Poitras / Praxis Films for Snowden’s image, www.time.com for Time magazine’s cover image