Astro-X-File: Pope Francis
'What if I didn't know this was a Pope's chart?'
Victor Olliver

August 2014

On March 13, 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected 266th Pope following the shock resignation of Benedict XVI.

Bergoglio - first Pope from the Americas but of Italian extraction - took the papal name of Francis in honour of St Francis of Assisi. His papacy is already marked by austerity, a pronounced concern for the poor, Vatican anti-corruption measures and a focus on building bridges of communication between divided peoples. In this report I examine his birth chart and identify a period ahead which could prove highly contentious.

The horoscope

What if Jorge Mario Bergoglio's birth chart were presented to me with no name? Would I be able to tell that this is the chart of a Pope? The short answer is: No. Astrology does not work that way. It is impossible to state with certainty how the interpreted potential in a horoscope will manifest in actuality. The key word is: potential. So, if I were presented with the anonymous birth details of Bergoglio, what would I say of him or her? Here's a précis. For the sake of convenience, let's assume the 'unknown' subject is male; and we'll christen him X.

X's birth details: Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 17, 1936, at 9 pm. Sun-sign: Sagittarius. Sun in 6th house is conjunct Sagittarius' ruler Jupiter in Capricorn, Ceres and Mercury: this tells me immediately that X is likely to be ebullient, direct, philosophically or politically alert, a nurturing soul; possibly a teacher of sorts; most probably destined to live abroad or to travel extensively (Jupiter).

The Sun's chart location - the 6th, traditional house of Virgo - tells me that 'service' is integral to life approach: there could be an attraction to charitable causes, helping the under-privileged and/or possibly to animal welfare. This is a team-player, gifted in bringing out the best in co-workers, employees and bosses. Though the Sun in 6th often bestows a no-nonsense, 'simple' approach to daily dealings, Jupiter here may also make X partial to rich foods. There could be weight issues.

Because Saturn (via Capricorn) rules X's Jupiter/Ceres/Mercury in a part of the chart that describes relationship to the world, in all likelihood he'll spend much time in a formal establishment or profession (politics or law or church or other orthodox environment) - and because his planet Saturn is in Pisces in Jupiter's house of the 9th, we may speculate that he will operate across borders in a job dedicated to creative or spiritual (Pisces) objectives. People he's drawn to tend to power, scholarship, order, self-discipline, orthodoxy (Capricorn).

Capricorn Mercury bang on the Descendant suggests an ordered mind with an especial need to bridge divides between other people through words and thought. He could be a very able ambassador or negotiator. X is likely to be adept at mathematics and to possess a sharp or dark sense of humour. He could be interested in therapy, either as patient or practitioner or both.

X's chart ruler is Moon (Cancer rising): persona will be caring, gentle, protective but also prickly, perhaps moody. He will be highly sensitive to mood, public, social and personal. People with this feature like to operate within a family-like structure and prefer the informalities of intimacy. The memory is long. But because Moon is in Aquarius, he will be less likely to cling to the past; more robust or rejectionist in dealing with personal hurts and others' sense of tradition. He honours the past but looks ahead to another time. Tempus fugit. Some may think him rather cool or cold in his capacity to dump the redundant.

X's Moon is conjunct Venus in Aquarius across the 7th/8th houses cusp: social skills and sense of beauty are highly developed. Much attention is paid to the concerns of others and working through groups. Though friendly and affectionate, X will display detachment, a tendency to free himself from the traps and contingencies of familiarity (Aquarius). An impersonal 'love' of many others - or humanitarianism - may account for this, as if ideals or ideas are more important than the 'exclusivity' of usual friendship ties, or more. He is not disloyal. X is looking over people's shoulders.

Uranus near the top of the chart next to the career point Midheaven in Taurus marks X out as a professional rebel or someone who can prove to be highly unpredictable. This is a person drawn to conservative/tradition-bound or inert career worlds (Taurus) in which he proves to be the dynamic force (Uranus). Uranus here may also indicate a science career [the Pope is a chemist]. A pioneering spirit works to his advantage (Uranus trine solar stellium). The challenging Venus/Uranus square - which ordinarily could make X difficult to read and prone to erratic behaviour which are impediments to progress - is mitigated by an astrological feature called 'mutual reception' (Venus rules Taurus Uranus; Uranus rules Aquarius Venus): X's highly individualistic approach could be a bone of contention with colleagues or friends, but somehow struggle and contention work to X's benefit in the long-run. Given Venus' involvement, perhaps personal charm is the lubricant. Uranus is warmed by Venus' influence while reaching out widely to many different people and groups. Different social contacts feel they receive his very personal touch.

Rising planet Pluto in the 1st house suggests a powerful and influential personality. This placement accentuates individualism. People may find X quite intense and un-knowable - or even secretive. This belies the natural 'openness' or directness described above: despite his social ease, people come to realise that they do not really know X well and this could be because he withholds a great deal of what he thinks (at least for portions of time). X may experience more than one rebirth in his life which catches others' unawares. Pluto rising has the capacity to instigate huge changes in other people's lives. Given the square to Uranus/Midheaven, career could be the means of 'revolution' with the risk of 'too much too soon' or controversy or hostility.

Much can be achieved through stealth rather than blitz.

The Saturn/Neptune opposition could have a spiritual or creative theme - idealistic Neptune rules Pisces in which Saturn is found. In some this can highlight major issues over what's real or imagined, what's true or false. In another sense, there may be a perceived division between a formal professional world and the ideals behind it. In yet another sense, X may wonder at times what or who he can trust. A life challenge is to avoid absolutes in his outlook (given that the opposition is on the 3rd/9th houses axis - to do with viewpoints).

Much change in the life may be expected from the mutable grand cross (Saturn/Neptune; Chiron/Jupiter + Sun, Mercury, Ceres by conjunction) because what is tested is X's adaptability and/or his ability to synthesise many different factors in order to make progress. In the main he should find himself equal to the challenges. The risk is that he proves to be too pliable or evasive; overwhelmed as he bends this way and that in all winds.

Chiron's placement in Gemini in the 12th house is reflective of other patterns in X's chart. The 12th - associated with Pisces and Neptune - can suggest a degree of self-denial for the benefit of others; and exhaustion can be a peril as others' needs are put before one's own. In less developed souls, there may be a readiness to play the victim. With Chiron in Gemini, communication (words, thoughts, languages) plays a vital role in helping others, echoing the placement of Mercury (Gemini's ruler) on the descendant: X is a natural helper and disseminator. In certain specific ways, people will find him readily accessible, flexible and a talented educator.

North Node conjunct Sagittarian Sun and Jupiter/Mercury (South node conjunct Chiron) is a strong indication that X will thrive on finding a faith (not necessarily religious) as a counter-balance to perplexing factual information overload. Commitment is given to a purpose or type of study or both as a full expression, based on a strong catalytic belief (Jupiter in Capricorn but semi-dignified by Sun conjunction in Sagittarius). Faith helps to make sense of certain things that cannot always be rationally understood. X may feel a sense of 'destiny' about this (North node) - and he should avoid yielding to self-importance. The Jupiter theme comprises education, travel, philosophy, justice, ethics, faith and/or large ideas. The theme of X's life is constantly of breaking new ground, pushing back boundaries and reaching out to others. The 6th house context imports great empathy with and sympathy for others.

The powerful representation of the importance of communication in X's chart is redoubled by an air grand trine involving Moon/Venus-Chiron-Mars. Activism (Mars) is softened and sweetened (Moon/Venus) for a benevolent or nurturing purpose (Chiron). This is a person who operates through cultivated relationships and networks - and who makes it his business to understand other perspectives. However, a slight preponderance of earth signs in his chart (4 + Midheaven and pars fortuna) does suggest a pragmatic and resolute individual, so his readiness to listen to others may prove to be part of a strategy to win through consensus rather than confrontation.

X's critics may sometimes suspect that he adopts suspect means to justify certain ends.


Pope Francis' birth chart

The Way Ahead to 2019: A Revolution to Come

When Bergoglio was elected Pope on March 13, 2013 - a papal 'birth' moment - transiting Pluto was on the same spot as his birth Mercury; it's an aspect that promises a complete change not just in what is said and how it's said (Mercury), not just tinkering, but in thought. The potential consequence is some kind of revolution (Pluto). Because Mercury-tr Pluto is on the chart point to do with the Pope's relationship with the world, there is likely to be opposition and hostility. Pluto is the ruthless 'digger' of astrology, delving mercilessly beneath the surface of things to seek out the corrupt or redundant - spiritual or temporal - and it is also the planet of banks and big money. It's no surprise that among his early initiatives, Pope Francis has opened up the scandal-ridden Vatican bank to scrutiny.

As 2015 begins, tr Uranus sits at the top of Pope Francis' chart - there a long time to come, moving backwards and forwards in dynamic Aries. This not only marks him as a pioneer or 'rebel' but also a great communicator or ambassador, reaching out to other peoples and beliefs. Because his birth Uranus is also positioned at the top of the chart (in Taurus), it could be said that Francis is coming into his own at last as a mould-breaker.

Moving on to late 2016/early 2017, Solar Arc Pluto conjoins birth Mars in Libra in the Pope's 4th house: this marks a new intense period of great challenge and change - perhaps an explosive or convulsive time in and around the Vatican itself (4th house). A power struggle, or an immense alteration in structures, can be expected anytime throughout 2017. During this year, Solar Arc Mars conjoins birth Mercury, suggesting a new papal initiative, greater assertion to the world and/or the risk of exercising too much power or falling victim to power.

With Solar Arc Uranus on birth Pluto later in 2017 and into 2018, there could be great upheaval in the Pope's personal world or a change in circumstances - certainly the sense of 'revolution' in his life is powerful, what with Progressed Uranus conjunct birth Uranus throughout 2017.

By mid-2019 - if the Pope lives his potential to this point; astrology cannot predict death - he will be starting to feel that the substantive work of his papacy is done or is in motion, with tr Uranus starting a recurring conjunction with birth Uranus (alias Uranus' Return). Despite outward crises or controversies, he is likely to feel that he has fashioned something in the image of his mindset. Sometimes a person may feel his work is done even if to the outside world he has only just started.

How this actually manifests no astrologer can tell.


Adapted from Victor Olliver's Lifesurfing: Your Horoscope Forecast Guide 2015 (available as eBook or paperback on Amazon)