The 1 Rule Pope Francis Never Breaks When Taking Time Off Work

Have you ever wondered what a typical workday is like for Pope Francis? What exactly does the 81-year-old pontiff do all day, where does he do it, and is his job even remotely like the average person’s? Does he get hangry at 3:00 and run for the vending machine? Does he go anywhere in his Ford Focus?

Here we’ll take a look at the typical workday for Pope Frances from start to finish. Learn the one frugal workplace rule he follows that sets him apart from many of his predecessors (page 7).

1. He wakes up, prays, and says Mass

Pope Francis at a chapel at the Vatican

He says the morning mass every day at 7 a.m. | Alessandra Tarantino/AFP/Getty Images

Francis rises on his own at 4:30 a.m. and spends two hours praying and meditating on Scripture. He also uses this time to prepare his morning homily message. At 7 a.m., he says Mass in the chapel of Santa Marta, located at the Vatican where he lives. Mostly just household staff are present. After Mass, he greets every single attendee outside the chapel.

Next: His go-to breakfast

2. What he eats for breakfast

Pope Francis has dinner

He has orange juice and membrillo every morning. | Luca Zennaro/AFP/Getty Images

Frances then walks to the Santa Martha cafeteria at 8 a.m. His breakfast consists of fresh-squeezed orange juice (a special indulgence, as other diners are served the packaged version) and membrillo, which is a jelly-like paste made from quince and popular in his home country, Argentina. He never eats alone.

Next: His office

3. The Pope’s office

Pope Francis office

He lives and works in apartment 201. | -/AFP/Getty Images

After breakfast, Francis takes the elevator up to apartment 201, where he lives and works. He maintains his own private agenda, choosing with whom to make appointments. If guests come to meet him, it happens here.

What’s on his desk and walls? An icon of St. Francis, a statue of Our Lady of Luján (patron saint of Argentina), a crucifix, and a statue of St. Joseph sleeping. “The setting is simple, austere. The workspace occupied by the desk is small,” said Antonio Spadaro, an Italian Jesuit who interviewed Francis.

Next: How he breaks for lunch

4. Lunch and siesta

Pope Francis with pizza

He really loves his pizza. | Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

The pope eats lunch at 1 p.m., again in the cafeteria. Fellow diners say he’s not picky and will eat anything he’s served — although he does prefer meat over fish. He enjoys pizza (he misses getting it in Buenos Aires). During one lunch, he filled his tray with a plate of cod fish, a bowl of fusilli pasta without sauce, a side of grilled tomatoes, and a few french fries, onlookers reported.

After lunch, he takes a short nap. He doesn’t go for walks in the Vatican gardens, as his predecessor did. “It can’t be done because if you go out, people flock around you,” he said. (Nothing jeans, a t-shirt and baseball cap couldn’t solve?)

Next: Back to work

5. He resumes work

Pope Francis praying

He reportedly falls asleep while praying sometimes. | Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

After siesta, Francis goes back to work: More correspondence and phone calls. He also appoints bishops, reviews speeches, and speaks to nuncios (ambassadors of the Catholic Church). He tries for an hour of adoration of the Eucharist before dinner (although he admits he sometimes falls asleep while praying). “One cannot know the Lord without the habit of adoring, of adoring in silence,” he said.

Next: His nightly routine

6. Dinner and bed

Pope Francis private apartments

A lot of his life is pretty normal. | Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

Francis eats a cafeteria-style, self-service dinner in the dining room at 8 p.m. He microwaves his own food if it’s not warm enough. Before taking the elevator back upstairs, he always says goodnight to the Swiss guard, Vatican gendarme, and reception desk clerk in the hotel lobby.

He’s in bed by 9 p.m., reads for an hour, and sleeps soundly for the next six hours.

Next: A rule Francis follows — religiously — when taking time off work

A unique work rule he follows

Pope Francis waving

He stays in the Vatican all year long. | Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Unlike his predecessors, this frugal pope doesn’t use the opulent papal summer retreat Castel Gandolfo in the hills south of Rome. Rather, he remains in the Vatican guesthouse year-round. He’d rather just stay there and lighten his summer schedule a bit.

During his stay-cation, he spends time reading (he’s a fan of Dostoevsky and Gerard Manley Hopkins) and listening to music (he enjoys Mozart).

Next: Here’s what he’s missing out on.

The retreat he forgoes

Papal Palace Castel Gandolfo,

He skips out on the fancy complex. | Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Most popes escaped the summer heat by heading to the papal palace, Castel Gandolfo. Located in a cooler climate in a town south of Rome, the palace overlooks the extinct volcano, Lake Albano. The complex consists of 20 marble-floored rooms, Renaissance-style gardens, and a working dairy farm.

Bucking tradition by not personally using the retreat, Francis opened it up to the public as a museum in 2016 — revealing 20 never-before-seen rooms including a private library, study, chapel, and simple bedroom.

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