Assisi or Xavier? Many readers think Francis may be nodding to the co-founder of the Jesuits, Saint Francis Xavier, rather than of Assisi. I assumed Assisi because the former invariably has the Xavier attached (so many Catholic boys were once named Francis X. O’Sullivan or whatever), and because of the new Pope’s focus on poverty and humility. And Pope Francis, unlike Xavier, is not a globe-trotter or known for missionary work. But I may be wrong. We should find out soon enough.
Update: BBC is reporting that:
Pope Francis chose his name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi because he is a lover of the poor, said Vatican deputy spokesman Thomas Rosica.
"Cardinal Bergoglio had a special place in his heart and his ministry for the poor, for the disenfranchised, for those living on the fringes and facing injustice," Rosica said. ...
The name symbolizes "poverty, humility, simplicity and rebuilding the Catholic Church," Allen said. "The new pope is sending a signal that this will not be business as usual." ...
In a famous episode, Christ on the Cross came to life three times in the small Church of St. Damian and told him: "Go, Francis, and repair my Church in ruins," Pope Benedict XVI said, according to the Vatican's website.
"At that moment St. Francis was called to repair the small church, but the ruinous state of the building was a symbol of the dramatic and disquieting situation of the Church herself," Pope Benedict XVI said. "At that time the Church had a superficial faith which did not shape or transform life, a scarcely zealous clergy, and a chilling of love."
If Pope Francis took that name to signal his intention to put the scandals to rest by cleaning house, to clean up the Vatican's finances and politics, and to promote a new evangelism, then thanks be to God.