Pope Francis may whip crowds up into a frenzy and have ardent followers across the globe, but the pontiff insists he is no “Superman”.
“I don’t like… the Pope Francis mythology,” he said in an interview marking his first year in office published on Wednesday in Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily.
“Painting the Pope as a sort of Superman, a sort of star, seems offensive,” he said.
“The pope is a man who laughs, who cries, who sleeps soundly and has friends like everyone else. A normal person.”
The 77-year-old, known for his gentle smile and infectious energy, has built up a following of over 12 million people on Twitter since his election last March and is re-tweeted more than US President Barack Obama.
In life we all make many mistakes. Let us learn to recognize our errors and ask forgiveness.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) March 4, 2014
Francis in January featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, which hailed his relaxed style and less aggressive stance than his predecessors on hot-button issues like homosexuality.
In January, an image of him as Superman, flying through the air with his white cape billowing out behind, was graffitied onto a wall in Rome — and re-tweeted by the Vatican.
Speeding forwards with his fist raised, the Pontiff — crucifix swinging in the wind — carried his trademark black bag, with the word “values” on it.
Francis was tipped this week as a favourite among 278 nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize, on the basis of his efforts to redistribute global wealth.
The Argentine, who rose from modest beginnings to become the first non-European Pope in nearly 1300 years, was named last year by Time magazine as its person of the year.