A Papal Family Tree

On March 13, 2013 the words "Habemus Papam!" were finally heard in a crowded St. Peter's square announcing the election of the new Pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. It did not take long to discover that Pope Francis had Italian roots. His family was originally from the village of Portacomaro Stazione, part of the city of Asti, located in the rolling hills of Monferrato in the historic region of Piedmont. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, pictured below with his family in Argentina, was born in Flores, Buenos Aires on December 17, 1936 to Mario Giuseppe Francesco Bergoglio (born in Torino) and Regina Maria Sivori.

Minutes after Pope Francis was elected, the mayor of Asti, Fabrizio Brignolo, requested the research of the Bergoglio family tree. The results were made public a few days later. The research team at My Italian Family followed his lead, located some of the Bergoglio family documents and made them available to the public. Click the hyperlinks in this blog post to view documents in Pope Francis' Italian family tree.

On August 14, 1884 a 27-year old farmer named Francesco Bergoglio walked in the town hall of Asti to declare that his legitimate wife, Maria Bugnano, gave birth to a son, Giovanni Angelo Bergoglio. Giovanni, Pope Francis' grandfather, was born on August 13, 1884 at 11:00 a.m. in the house located in Valleversa (Valle means hill/valley and Versa is the name of the stream flowing through the hills of Monferrato) of Portacomaro Stazione. Jorge Mario later chose the papal name of Francesco (Francis) which, we later learned, was taken as a tribute to Saint Francis, the protector of the poor. Witnesses to Pope Francis' great-grandfather's birth were Lorenzo Nadelle age 41 contadino (i.e. farmer) and Giovanni Belangero age 42 facchino (i.e. porter). Giovanni's birth document was signed by his father, Francesco. 

Francesco was the son of Giuseppe Bergoglio, born in 1816 in the hamlet of Schierano, part of the town of Passerano Marmorito. Maria Giacchino or Gioacchino, Francesco's wife, was born in 1819 in Cocconato d'Asti. The two towns are only a few miles apart.

Pope Francis' grandfather, Giovanni Angelo Bergoglio, migrated to Torino on January 1, 1906 when he was 22 years old. A year later, in 1907, Giovanni Angelo, liquorista and caffettiere (i.e. owner of a beverage and coffee shop) married 23 year old Rosa Margherita Vassallo, daughter of Pietro, who originally was from Piana Crixia (province of Savona). On April 2, 1908 Giovanni and Rosa had their first son, Mario Giuseppe Francesco Bergoglio, Pope Francis' father.

In 1918, a year after the birth of another daughter, Bianca Maria Bergoglio, stillborn, Giovanni and Rosa returned to Asti. At the time of his daughter's birth, Giovanni Angelo, was away and the Bianca's birth was declared by Giuseppe Martinengo, age 33, fabbro (i.e. blacksmith). Back in their hometown, Giovanni and Rosa opened a grocery store and resided between Via Fontana, Corso Alessandria and via dell'Antica Zecca for eleven years before they boarded a ship on February 1, 1929 heading to Argentina.

The Bergoglio family kept some contact with Italy. Mario, Pope Francis' father, who in the meantime had married Regina Sivori, registered with the town hall of Asti the births of three of his five children: Maria Elena Bergoglio, Marta Regina Bergoglio and Alberto Horacio Bergoglio all born in Buenos Aires. 

Click here to view the Bergoglio Family Chart. 

Discover centuries of information about your family tree!  


In 2003 the then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was awarded from the Region Piemonte, the international recognition of "Piemontese nel mondo", as a person who positively represented Piemonte abroad.

When in 2005, Cardinal Bergoglio visited his Ancestral village he brought back to Argentina a bag full of soil never to forget his roots.