Sacred Sweat

Does the Pope Sweat?

It's Day One of a new papal regime. This got us to thinking: What's the Pope's daily routine, and does he go to the gym? Dawn Patrolers will recall that we also covered the daily routine of the Dalai Lama. Call it the Sacred Sweat series.

It's early to know how Pope Francis will spend his days, but we do know that he will not be running any marathons. Turns out Francis is working with only one lung, having had the other removed due to dangerous teenage infection. Outgoing Benedict wasn't much of a cardio fiend, either. He limited his daily exercise to a 10 minute walk around the Apostolic Palace, but he also kept a strict and healthy schedule: Up at 5AM after six hours of sleep, a Mediterannean diet, sans alcohol, and plenty of prayer.

The public record suggests that fitness, in the conventional sense, has not been a major preoccupation of the Vatican. True, Pope Pius XII, a controversial pontiff who presided over Catholicism during World War II, used a rowing machine in his youth. By the time he was Pope, however, Pius' routine was strictly 15 minutes of "knee bends and arm flexes" timed with a gold Swiss watch.

No, the Vatican is not a CrossFit "box," but all Popes do preside over a full Mass every morning, which must be done standing; and they also spend quite a lot of time praying. Getting into and out of all those vestments also must keep one quite limber. Bottom line: Popes are pretty long lived. The average lifespan of all Popes since 1700 is 78 years, well above the average life expectancy of the general population during the same period.

Still, it'd be nice to see a bit more physicality in Rome, to set a good example for Catholics all over the world. With the first Latin American Pope, we'd love to see a Papal Zumba class, for example, or even a Vatican 10K, or a Pontifical Mudder.....


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