A word of warning to those who write personal notes to Pope Francis: He might just call you back. Francis has charmed the masses with his informal style, simplicity, and sense of humor—and a handful of strangers have gotten the treatment up close, receiving papal phone calls out of the blue after writing him or suffering some personal tragedy. The 76-year-old Francis has a fondness for making calls the old-fashioned way, using land lines and placing the calls himself, often surprising recipients by simply announcing, "It's the pope."
After his election in March, Francis called his newspaper stand in Buenos Aires to cancel his daily delivery and his shoemaker to tell him to keep making his regular black orthotics. The receptionist at the Jesuit headquarters in Rome thought he got a crank call when Francis phoned two days after being chosen pope looking for the Jesuit superior. Francis has since called an Italian man whose brother was killed and a Colombian woman who works in Rome to thank her for a book.