Amalia Damonte, 76, grew up in the same Flores neighbourhood of Buenos Aires as Jorge Bergoglio and said that when the Pontiff was 12, he wrote a letter declaring his love.
Speaking to Argentinian TV, she said: “He said that if I didn’t say yes, he would have to become a priest. Luckily for him, I said no.
“He had a crush on me … We used to play on the streets here. It was a quiet neighbourhood then. He was very nice.”
“We were 12, 13 years old, no more than that,” she said. “He was wonderful. He was a proper guy.”
She said when she found out her former admirer had been made the first non-European pope for 1,300 years, she was shocked.
The pensioner said: “I froze in front of the television. I couldn’t believe that Jorge was the Pope!”