An Italian teenager was amazed to pick up the telephone and hear the voice on the other line say “Hello, it’s Pope Francis here.”
Stefano Cabizza, 19, an information technology student from near Padua in northern Italy, wrote a letter to the new Pope a few weeks ago in which he described his life and expressed hopes that he would find a job at the end of his studies.
He then thought nothing more of it.
So he was stunned to have the leader of the world’s 1.2bn Catholics phone him up for a chat.
In fact the Pope could not reach him on his first attempt – Mr Cabizza was not at home – and had to try a second time.
“I couldn’t believe it. We laughed and joked for about eight minutes. He called me around five o’clock after finding that I was not at home the first time around.
“He asked me to pray for him and then he gave me a blessing. It was the most beautiful day of my life.”
Pope Francis told the student to address him as ‘tu’ rather than use the much more formal ‘lei’ during the conversation.
“He said to me, do you think the Apostles would have used the polite form with Christ? “Would they have called him your excellency? They were friends, just as you and I are now, and with friends I’m accustomed to using ‘tu’.”
Mr Cabizza said it had been “a fantastic experience” to talk one-to-one with the Argentine Pope and that he was struck by his “humility and his closeness to ordinary Catholics”.
The Pope has struck a much more informal tone compared to his predecessor, Benedict XVI, since being elected in March.
It is not the first time that he has surprised ordinary people by picking up the phone.
Five days after his election as the first Pope from the Americas, he called his local news kiosk in his home town of Buenos Aires, where he had been archbishop, to ask them to cancel his newspaper subscription.
At first the owner of the kiosk, Daniel Del Regno, thought it was a prank call and Francis, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio, had to insist that it was really him.
He said he needed to cancel the delivery of newspapers to his modest apartment in Buenos Aires because he would not be returning to Argentina any time soon.
“I was in shock, I broke down in tears and didn’t know what to say,” Mr Del Regno told La Nacion, an Argentine daily. “He thanked me for delivering the paper all this time and sent best wishes to my family.”