By Eric J. Lyman
One-hundred days after Francis became the first non-European pope since the eighth century, the main difference between him and his European predecessors has more to do with style than concrete action. Francis made his humble and pastoral style known to the massive crowds in St. Peter’s Square three months ago, when he refused much of the garb and traditions that come along with the job. Since then, he has celebrated public Masses almost daily, mingling with adoring crowds and shunning the sprawling papal apartments for a small and simple studio.”Christianity is more than anything a style, and Francis has brought his own style as a pastor and a leader by example to this job,” said Alberto Melloni, a professor of Christian history at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. “This is not superficial; it is essential.”It is a style that resonates with Catholics. Despite bad weather in recent weeks, crowds in St. Peter’s Square during papal Masses have swelled since Francis became pope. Roman hospitals have reported that the name Francis — already a popular one in Italy — has become significantly more popular over the past three months.