Pope’s childhood sweetheart reveals love letter

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AN Argentine woman who grew up next door to Pope Francis has told of how she was briefly the object of his affections when they were 12.

Amalia Damonte, now 76 like the pope, still lives four doors down from where Jorge Mario Bergoglio grew up in Buenos Aires.

Ms Damonte said that while he was fond of her, it was clear even at an early age that he was thinking about dedicating his life to God. She says that in a hand-written letter he left for her, the future pontiff drew a picture of a little white house with a red roof and wrote “this is what I’ll buy when we marry.” He added: “If I don’t marry you, I’m going to be a priest.”

Ms Damonte says her parents were angered by the letter and ended the friendship, adding: “My mom broke it off. Good Lord. She came to get me at the school and she said ‘so, you’re getting letters from a boy?!’”