Papal Apartments: 3 Popes’ Humble Homes


The Pope’s visit to his native South America got me thinking. I suppose it is as much a commentary on the difference between the American Dream and European expectations as anything else, but you can’t help but notice that the last three popes come from very humble beginnings.

Next time someone complains about the wealth of Popes, remind them that the treasures of the Vatican no more belong to a pope than the treasures of D.C. museums belong to a president — and then show them where the popes grew up.

Here is the childhood home of Saint John Paul II in Wadowice, Poland. The Wojtyla family rented two rooms and a kitchen on the first floor:


Here is the house Pope Benedict XVI was born in in Marktl am Inn, Germany. The family lived in an upstairs apartment. The family would later live in a series of upstairs apartments at police stations where Josef Ratzinger Sr., a police officer, worked.


And below is a video of Pope Francis’ boyhood home in Buenos Aires — like his predecessors, he grew up in the city, in rooms attached to others and with no yard. As a bonus, the video shows you the chapel he went to as a child, with its Eucharistic adoration.

Fun fact: Francis is the only Pope of the three whose mother didn’t work outside the home. Emilia Wojtyla was a schoolteacher and Maria Ratzinger was a dessert chef.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author

Tom Hoopes, author of What Pope Francis Really Said, is writer in residence at Benedictine College, in Atchison, Kansas, where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications Department and edits The Gregorian, a Catholic identity speech digest. He was previously editor of the National Catholic Register for 10 years and with his wife, April, of Faith & Family magazine for five. A frequent contributor to Catholic publications, he began his career as a reporter in the Washington, D.C., area and as press secretary for U.S. House Ways & Means Chairman Bill Archer. He lives in Atchison with his wife and those of his nine children still at home. The views and opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Benedictine College or the Gregorian Institute.

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