In Caravaggio’s painting of Matthew, the sinful tax collector being called by Jesus to “Follow me,” Pope Francis sees the same unexpected, grace-filled moment found in his own call to the priesthood.

A 17-year-old Argentine student headed to a school picnic on Sept. 21, 1953, the feast of St. Matthew, Jorge Bergoglio felt compelled to first stop by his parish of San Jose de Flores.

It was there, speaking with a priest he had never seen before and receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, he was suddenly struck by “the loving presence of God,” who, like his episcopal motto describes, saw him through eyes of mercy and chose him, despite his human imperfections and flaws.

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