VATICAN CITY – Because his cassock doesn't have a breast pocket, Pope Francis said he wears a cloth pouch under his white robes to carry the crucifix he took from a deceased priest.
Meeting March 6 with pastors of Rome parishes, Pope Francis said that while he was vicar general of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires he went to pay his last respects to a Blessed Sacrament priest, an extremely popular confessor, who had died in his 90s.
In the crypt of the church, the priest's body was lying there, but there were no flowers, he said.
"I thought, this man forgave the sins of all the clergy of Buenos Aires, including mine, and not a single flower. So I went out to the florist's."
Then, the pope "confessed" that he "started preparing the coffin with the flowers and I looked at the rosary in his hand.
"Immediately that robber that is in each of us came out and while I arranged the flowers, I picked up the cross of the rosary and with a little effort, I pulled it off. I looked at him and said, 'Give me half of your mercy.'"
He put the crucifix in his breast pocket and carried it there until his election as pope March 13, 2013.
"But a pope's shirts don't have pockets," so now he carries it in a cloth pouch under his cassock.
"And when I start having a bad thought about someone, I always put my hand here," he said.