I saw this article in today’s online edition of the Argentine newspaper Clarín. It’s called “The Pope, ever faithful to his shoemaker.” Much of the narrative will be familiar to those who recall the story about Francis’s calling his newspaper guy. In this case, the subject of the article is the cobbler Carlos Samaria, who has been making and repairing Bergoglio’s shoes for 40 years. It bears pointing out that in Argentina many things are regularly bought at tiny neighborhood shops from local vendors or craftsmen that we Americans would expect to get at WalMart or CVS. Anyway, here’s a couple of paragraphs from the end of the article (my translation):
[Samaria] recalled that when Bergoglio left for the Conclave he joked, “If you stay, I’ll run and bring you your shoes.” “And when I found out, I cried like a child, because we all thought he was coming back after the Conclave,” he says in a breaking voice.
“He doesn’t want new shoes, only for me to fix his old ones; but now I’m making him a simple pair, but new, for when he tells me I can go visit him, in May.” With emotion he recalls the worn-out soles Francis displayed when he was consecrated as bishop and later cardinal. In the ceremony those consecrated must lie on the floor in a sign of humility.
Two weeks ago the Pontiff woke him up with a phone call at 7:30 AM with the now-classic, “Hello Samaria, it’s Bergoglio.” When, still half asleep, he replied, “Who?”, he heard, “Francis, the Pope, Samaria.” Then Samaria asked what color shoes he wanted and Pope Francis responded that he preferred** “the same black ones as always, nothing red.”**
And, jokingly, Samaria prodded him: “Wouldn’t you like me to make you some asbestos gloves? Because the bigger the handle, the more it burns. [A Spanish proverb?]” The Pope laughed loudly and said, “That’s a very good joke; you’re right, Samaria.” And he thanked him.