Pope's childhood sweetheart speaks
I rejected his love, so he became a priest and now PopeA The new pope's childhood sweetheart Amalia Damonte has revealed that her rejection of...
I rejected his love, so he became a priest and now PopeA The new pope's childhood sweetheart Amalia Damonte has revealed that her rejection of his marriage proposal led the now Pope Francis I to devote his life to the Catholic church.A Damonte, now 76 years old, said that after she rejected Jorge Bergoglio's offer of marriage, he dramatically declared "If I can't marry you, I'll become a priest." The pope's former girlfriend recounted that he had sent her a love letter in which he'd illustrated their life together: "My father had hit me because I had dared to write a note to a boy.A "He had drawn for me a house which had a red roof and said that it was the house he was going to buy for me when we were married." "I never saw him after that - my parents kept me away from him and did everything possible to separate us." recalled Damonte. A 'I froze in front of the television. I couldn't believe that Jorge was the Pope,' said his old girlfriend, now a white-hair pensioner with spectacles. It was either 1948 or 1949 when the future Pope wrote her a letter declaring he would like to marry her. We were 12, 13 years old. No more than that,' she said. 'He was wonderful. He was a proper guy.' She still lives four doors up from Bergoglio's childhood home.A 'He had a crush on me, you know. We used to play on the streets here. It was a quiet neighbourhood then, and, well, he was very nice.' 'I hope he can achieve all the good that he holds in his heart.' In a 2010 interview, Jorge Bergoglio admitted he had a girlfriend with whom he loved to dance the tango - probably not a pastime for a 12-year-old. He said: 'She was one of a group of friends with whom I used to go dancing with. 'Then I discovered my religious vocation'. Bergoglio decided to take religious orders in 1958 when he was 21 but he wasn't ordained until 1969. He was born into a middle-class family of seven in 1936, his father a railway worker and his mother a housewife. He became a priest at 32, nearly a decade after losing a lung due to respiratory illness and quitting his chemistry studies. Perhaps Amalia's parents were wrong about the boy down the road. He will be now leading 1.20 billion Catholics all over the world.