News

What happened when I asked the Pope to go for pizza...

Former street paper vendor Marc went to interview the Pope – and found a 'wise, kind and humorous' man

Marc meets Pope Francis

Straatnieuws' Marc meets Pope Francis in 2015

Street paper vendor Marc, 51, had sold Straatnieuws magazine for two years in his hometown Utrecht. Formerly homeless, he’s getting back on his feet and working two days a week at the Straatnieuws office. He got the chance to interview Pope Francis – but he wasn’t told until two days before he left for Rome who he’d be interviewing.

How did you feel when you found out you’d be interviewing the Pope? I was really quite nervous the day before but on the day itself it went just fine, it seemed so normal to be talking to him. That was really strange. That also made it an unforgettable experience.

What was it like meeting him? It was so brilliant that he made the time for me and he thanked me for making such a long journey. He thought about my questions so calmly. He took me seriously, that was really great. He is such a kind, wise but also humorous man. We had a really good laugh!

He understands what a street paper does and why. He is our friend – and you help friends

Why did he do this? Because he is very committed to poor people. His name says it all: Francis is the patron saint of the poor and less fortunate. That’s why he understands what a street paper does and why. He is our friend – and you help friends.

Why couldn’t he go and eat pizza with you? He thought it was a good idea… Absolutely. But he excused himself. He can’t set foot outside the Vatican because the people in St Peter’s Square would go crazy. He is kind of a prisoner of the Vatican. But he also sees that as a blessing from God, he gets to be the Pope. He has kept his feet on the ground and prefers a simple life. That’s why he doesn’t live in the papal palace but in a Vatican hotel. In the mornings he can have breakfast there with the staff if he wants to.

After this experience, what message would you send out to other street paper vendors? Keep doing what you’re doing and spend your hard-earned money on the good things in life. I hope that this interview will help you all to sell more papers, and hope you now know there are very powerful world leaders out there who actively support you. The interview for the street papers is not just a present – he is giving himself to you. He gave me a rosary but actually it is for all of you. And be proud of your paper!

Interview and photographs by Frank Dries, courtesy of INSP News Service; INSP.ngo/Straatnieuws

The Big Issue no 1179

Support our vendors this winter and beyond

If you can't visit your local vendor on a regular basis, then the next best way to support them is with a subscription to the Big Issue. As a social enterprise, we invest every penny we make back into the organisation. That means that with every subscription, we are supporting people in poverty to get back on their own two feet.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
More than half of people on universal credit going hungry because they can't afford to eat
Trussell Trust food banks
Food banks

More than half of people on universal credit going hungry because they can't afford to eat

'An amazing U-turn': Home Office drops bid to allow asylum seekers to live in unsafe housing
Asylum seekers risked being left
Immigration

'An amazing U-turn': Home Office drops bid to allow asylum seekers to live in unsafe housing

Landlord Tory MPs are trying to 'gut' protections for private renters, analysis shows
no-fault evictions
Renters Reform Bill

Landlord Tory MPs are trying to 'gut' protections for private renters, analysis shows

DWP benefit dates for March 2024 and other help as cost of living payments end
benefits/ money
Benefits

DWP benefit dates for March 2024 and other help as cost of living payments end

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Here's when UK households to start receiving last cost of living payments
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Here's when UK households to start receiving last cost of living payments

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know