If the phone rings, answer. It could be Pope Francis.

If the phone rings, answer. It could be Pope Francis.
Pope Francis has responded to letters from 2 Italian teenagers with personal phone calls. (Photo: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)
(Photo: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Pope Francis is already known for surprising people, but 19-year-old Stefano Cabizza got the surprise of his life when he answered the phone on August 18 and the Holy Father himself was on the other end.

Cabizza, an Italian engineering student, wrote a letter to Pope Francis and gave it to a cardinal on August 15, during the pope’s Mass at Castel Gandolfo celebrating the feast of the Assumption.

Three days later, Cabizza answered the phone at his home and Pope Francis was on the other end, calling to chat. The conversation lasted about 8 minutes, during which the pope insisted Cabizza use the  informal Italian tu rather than the formal Lei. The Holy Father reportedly joked, “Do you think the apostles called Jesus Lei, or Your Excellency?”

This isn’t the first time Pope Francis has responded to a teenager’s letter with a personal phone call. On August 8, the Holy Father called 14-year-old Michele Feri, who wrote to the pope after his brother was murdered in a robbery.

Pope Francis’ practice of making personal calls to strangers prompted Italian columnist Beppe Severgnini to make a (tongue-in-cheek) list of “tips” for what to do when the Supreme Pontiff calls.

Read the full article and Severgnini’s tips at the National Catholic Reporter.