Newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Photographer: Getty Images
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - An Argentine woman who grew up as the neighbor of the future Pope Francis says she was very briefly the object of his affections when they were just 12 years old.
Amalia Damonte is now 76, just like the pope, and she still lives in a house just four doors down from where Jorge Mario Bergoglio grew up in the Flores neighborhood of Buenos Aires.
And she says it was clear from the start that he was thinking about dedicating his life to God.
Damonte said she especially remembers a handwritten letter he left for her, because it got her into a lot of trouble at the time.
"I remember perfectly that he had drawn me a little white house, which had a red roof, and it said "this is what I'll buy when we marry."
She said he supposedly also told her "If I don't marry you, I'm going to be a priest."
The Argentine media has had a field day with Damonte's recollections of her former neighbor, calling her the pope's "girlfriend."
But, Damonte said, "These were childish things, nothing more."
Nevertheless, she said, her strict parents were furious about the missive.
"My mom broke it off. Good Lord. She came to get me at the school and she said `so, you're getting letters from a boy?!' "
Her parents then did everything they could to keep them apart.
The Bergoglio family moved away from Membrillar Street decades ago. Damonte said she moved away as well, married and raised a family, and only returned to her parents' home years later. She followed her former neighbor's rise through the church, but never tried to speak with him again.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Click on the region names in the map below to see news from that region.
RIGHT NOW: Top Stories
Authorities say no one was home when a fire broke out and destroyed a residence in Mesa Saturday afternoon.
Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' advice to college graduates on Saturday was the same she offered senators earlier this year as they prepared to consider gun-related legislation.
It’s a sport Colton’s mom Simona Hecker never imagined he’d become comfortable with because of a developmental disorder he was born with.
Photos: Walk amongst 4,000 butterflies at 'Butterfly Wonderland' in Scottsdale, Ariz. The exhibit opened this weekend. Photo credit: Josh Frigerio/abc15.com
This month, the Fitbit Flex became the latest entrant in the race to dominate the wearable fitness technology market.
On one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year, some travelers looking to get to the Grand Canyon's glass-bottom Skywalk will have to pay an extra fee to cross through a private ranch in northwestern Arizona.