In a tribute to Pope John Paul II written after the Polish pontiff’s death in 2005 (and published in an Argentinian Catholic magazine, 30 Giorni), Cardinal Bergoglio recounted how the pope’s example inspired him to “recite the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary everyday.”
“If I remember well, it was 1985,” Bergoglio wrote. “One evening I went to recite the Holy Rosary that was being led by the Holy Father. He was in front of everybody, on his knees. The group was numerous; I saw the Holy Father from the back and, little by little, I got lost in prayer. I was not alone; i was praying in the middle of the people of God to which I and all those there belonged, led by our Pastor…
“In the middle of the prayer, time drifted away and I began to imagine the young priest, the seminarian, the poet, the worker, the child from Wadowice…in the same position in which he knelt at that moment, reciting Ave Maria after Ave Maria. His witness struck me.
“I felt this man, chosen to lead the Church was following a path up to his Mother in the sky, a path set out from his childhood. And I became aware of the density of the words of the Mother of Guadalupe to Juan Diego: ‘Don’t be afraid, am I not your mother?'” I understood the presence of Mary in the life of a Pope. That testimony did not get forgotten in an instant. From that time on I recite the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary everyday.”
Excerpt from “Pray for Me: The life and spiritual vision of Pope Francis” by Robert Moynihan (Image Books)