The Untold Truth Of Pope Francis' Siblings

Since becoming the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has wowed the world with his progressive and sympathetic stances on global and social issues. As the most prominent face of the Catholic faith, he has used his papal platform to denounce once-taboo subjects like homophobic violence (via PBS), proclaim support of civil unions for gay couples (per the National LGBTQ Task Force), and even apologize for the church's role in colonization (reported by the Foreign website). For all of that, and more, he's become known as the "People's Pope," reports Time.

The Argentine-born religious leader made world history in 2013 when he became the first Latin American pope, the first Jesuit, and the first non-European in many years (according to The Washington Post, it's been close to 1,300 years since the last one) to be elected to the role. The journey to the papacy was a long one for the now 84-year-old.

Who is the Pope and who are his siblings ?

And while the world knows a lot about Pope Francis, and even his previous jobs as a bouncer and janitor, what is known about his family — his siblings in particular?

Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 17, 1936. He is of Italian descent, the child of Italian immigrants who settled in that country during the early 20th century. His father was Mario Giuseppe Francesco Bergoglio, and his mother, Regina Maria Sivori.

Pope Francis is the first of the five children the couple would have. As the eldest Bergoglio child, he had four siblings: two sisters and two brothers.

In order from oldest to youngest they are: Oscar Adrian Bergoglio (born in 1938), Marta Regina Bergoglio (born in 1940), Alberto Horacio Bergoglio (born in 1942), and Maria Elena Bergoglio (born in 1948), according to Geni. They were all born and raised in Buenos Aires.

His sister was vocal about his election to the papacy

But according to an Italian ancestry site, the senior Bergoglio had also registered the births of Alberto, Maria Elena, and Marta in his home region of Piedmont, Italy.

Sadly, most of Pope Francis' siblings are no longer living; he and his youngest sister, Maria Elena are the only surviving children of their immediate family. The three deceased middle siblings died quite some time before his election as pope in March of 2013. His sister Marta died in 2007 at 66 years old, and his brother Alberto died in 2010 at age 67. His other young brother, Oscar, is also deceased. If Oscar were alive today he would have been 83, just a year younger than Pope Francis, at 84. Maria Elena, his only surviving sibling, still lives in Argentina, and is about 71 years old, per National Catholic Reporter.

The world came to know Pope Francis' only living sibling and sister Maria Elena, just a day after he was elected.

Pope Francis was close to his siblings and protective

She notably expressed a show of pity regarding her brother's new title, and told several media outlets that she initially hoped he would not win the election to become Pope, according to CNN. "I prayed that the Holy Spirit would intervene and not listen to me. And it didn't listen to me," she told CNN.

She stated that her reaction was mostly based on not wanting her brother to leave Argentina, but she eventually came around and praised his historic election and what it meant for the Church. "I feel like the church opened its doors, and said to the world, 'Here I am. I belong to everyone. I am not from one continent, but absolutely belong to everyone,'" she said.

Despite more than a decade gap between him and Maria, she says she always felt the protector in her brother. In an interview with EuroNews, she recalled her childhood and what she remembers about her dear brother's relationship with her.

'He was always very kind'

"Because of our age difference I can't really say much about him around the house. But he was always very kind — very protective. That's the picture I still have," she said to EuroNews in a video interview posted to YouTube.

But she noted that he was close with all, even as he had other growing ambitions, per Catholic Philly. It's also clear that he still has a strong bond with his remaining sister. Asked how she would address him — "Jorge" (his birth name), "Francis," or "Holy Father" — a title often given to the pope — she replied, "Jorge! Jorge! As long as I know it's still my brother calling, then I'll call him Jorge. Maybe someday it'll be Francis, but for now it's just Jorge," she told National Catholic Reporter shortly after the papal election. "I'm grateful that so far, Francis is still Jorge." She added, "he's very conscious of the responsibility that he's carrying now, he didn't seem nervous or anxious about it." Still her big brother.

He's an uncle several times over

One can assume he was also very close with his brother Oscar, as the two were near in age, and the only childhood photo of Francis shows them both celebrating their first Holy Communion together.

While Pope Francis made his own vow to never marry or have children long ago, his siblings have made him an uncle several times over. He has no shortage of extended relatives — 16 nieces and nephews, and several more great-nieces and great-nephews, according to National Catholic Reporter. He tragically lost two of his great-nephews in a 2014 car crash in Argentina, and his nephew was severely injured, per Daily Mail.

He had commented on the crash in a personal heartfelt message, asking for empathy and revealing just how many extended family members he has.

"We were five siblings, and I have 16 nieces and nephews," he said. "One of these nephews was in an accident. His wife died along with his two small children — one who was 2 years old and the other several months." As he pointed out, "The pope has a family, too."