The man who would one day be pope sat alone in his room for hours. The shy Argentine had come to snowy Dublin in January 1980 to live in a bleak one-room apartment. On a sabbatical at the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, 43-year-old Jorge Mario Bergoglio would try, for the first time, to learn English.
The school gave him a tutor.
According to one account, he went to the bursar’s office to ask for £14 pounds to buy language tapes.
By the time the name Jorge Bergoglio meant something to the world, those who were with him at the Jesuit university couldn’t remember much when reporters came asking. Just that he kept to himself, alone in his room.
Praying, most likely. Practicing, most certainly.
“The hardest [language] for me has always been English. Above all, the pronunciation, because I don’t have an ear for it,” Pope Francis would later tell a biographer.
After three months of studying in Ireland, he never caught on to English — the language he will encounter when he sets foot in the United States for the first time Tuesday.
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