“ALL THE DARKNESS IN THE WORLD CANNOT EXTINGUISH THE LIGHT OF A SINGLE CANDLE.”
― St. Francis of Assisi, The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi

When I first heard that there was to be a new Pope, I admit, it was not a story that I was particularly interested in, because although Catholicism is a part of my daily life in rural Ireland, I neither practice nor believe the tenets of that faith. However, when I heard then that the Papal Conclave had chosen a man from outside of Europe, and that he was the first Pope ever to be chosen from amongst the order of Jesuits, I listened a little harder. On hearing that he had chosen the name of Francis, I became more interested, and after early indications that he could be somewhat different from the usual inhabitants of the Vatican, I was spurred to search out his birth details. I discovered a birth time from an astrology site that appears genuinely to be from a birth certificate, and the chart is below.
The chart gives a Sun Sagittarius with Cancer rising and the Lady of the chart in Aquarius, immediately suggesting that Francis is a man of traditional values, who is likely to adopt a caring attitude towards his fellow man. With a natural inclination towards learning, teaching, and the promotion of justice , the position of Uranus on the Taurus MC also indicates that this man is likely to achieve some recognition as a both an upholder and breaker of tradition. . Perhaps he will be a re- shaper, or someone who endorses a change in values, or one who is seen to stand out in quite a radical way for his values.
Francis was born under the last (waning) square of Uranus and Pluto, a natal aspect in (his) angular houses, that references the current (waxing) square that dominates the sky at this pivotal time in history. The waning square is a time of major crisis and tension, with an urgent need to manifest the ideas of the cycle through force. This phase is associated with the winter phase, when everything is laid bare. The world of 1936 was a place fraught with enormous social unrest, the Great Depression in the United States, the rise of Dictators the world over and the growing threat of war in Europe with the building power of Nazi Germany and the breaking of the Versailles treaty. The Spanish civil war broke out, the Arab revolt started, and Italy annexed Ethiopia. There were also of course, less brutal landmarks, such as the first large-scale transmission of hydroelectric power, the first flight of the Spitfire aeroplane, and the first transmission of BBC1 television. All these events can be interpreted as manifestations of the intense struggle between Pluto, in the last degrees of Cancer, and Uranus, moving from Aries into Taurus. Themes of homelands, hunger, homelessness, defence, family, bloodlines and racial purity were very much to the fore, as Cancerian issues were dug over by Pluto, whilst new steps in broadcasting, flight, shipping and power generation were creative manifestations that were perhaps initially more pleasing to the eye.
Having being born into this winter phase of the Pluto Uranus cycle and to be elected Pope at the time of the waxing square, we might expect Francis to have an inborn sense of the pain of deprivation, loss and persecution. The current waxing square strongly aspects his natal chart, emphasising the Mercury Ascendant opposition. Transiting Pluto was exactly conjunct his Natal Mercury when he was elected, emphasising his ability to communicate in a powerful way to both those in his immediate vicinity and also to the wider collective.

Another planetary cycle pair that is strongly placed in Francis’ chart is the Saturn Neptune opposition, a cycle that relates to democracy, political change, reform, socialism & philanthropy. {It is interesting to note that these two planets were also in opposition at the time of birth of Francis of Assisi, and also at the time of the coronation of the first Pope, in AD 33!}This opposition is placed across the 9th & 3rd houses, loosely square to the Sun Chiron Nodal axis of the 6th & 12th, suggesting that these themes are of strong personal motivation to him. The idea of being able to contribute something of value to society through his ability to learn, teach and show by spiritual example is likely to be strongly attractive to Francis, but this could be challenged by his new post. The public demands of his new role could prove contrary to his natural inclination to move away from the spotlight, to give service to others, and not to be the centre of attention.

There are several strong personal themes in this natal chart that immediately stood out to me . and the first is the Cancer ascendant, with ruler the Moon conjunct Venus in Aquarius.
Straddling the cusp of the 8th House, they both square their ruler Uranus (conjunct the MC), with which Venus is in mutual reception. This strong link between the Ascendant and MC suggests a new take on a traditional theme where Francis’ protecting caring and nurturing approach is likely to be strongly motivated by ideas of community, humanitarian impulse and social justice. His awareness of the darker side of human nature and it’s huge capacity for corruption (Chart ruler 8th) could force him to urge some kind of change or shift in the arcane establishment that he has now become head of. (Moon square Uranus conjunct MC Taurus)
This theme involving the Moon, Aquarius, Uranus & Venus is beautifully captured in words from his inaugural Mass,

“ The vocation of being a protector means protecting all creation as St Francis of Assisi showed us. It means protection of children, the elderly and those in need. It means caring for our families. Husbands and wives first protect one another and their children, who later protect their parents. It means building friendships where we protect one another. In the end everything has been entrusted to our protection, Be protectors of God’s gifts.”

The Crescent Moon Phase itself indicates a struggle to challenge the old order, an impulse for new action, and an eagerness to implement new ideas, but that there may also be a feeling of being overwhelmed by the “momentum of the past”.
With Uranus conjunct the MC, we might hope that Francis is a man of change, for the world is sorely in need of visionary leaders, no matter to what faith they belong. His origins in the Jesuit order may also affirm the indications that he may initiate a humble and intelligent approach to this powerful office. The Jesuits main work (apart from upholding the faith) seems to be in education, founding schools, colleges, universities and seminaries, intellectual research, and cultural pursuits. They also minister in hospitals and parishes and promote social justice and ecumenical dialogue.

Bearing this in mind, the second major pattern in the chart emerges.
The Sun in Sagittarius, conjuncts Jupiter in Capricorn and opposes Chiron. This opposition lies across the nodal axis, highlighting the 6th & 12th houses. Jupiter himself is conjunct Mercury and this conjunction lies across the descendant. The Sun is singleton in Fire, and conjunct the North Node. This emphasis across the 6th 12th axis in Sagittarius & Gemini, loosely ties in with a mutable T-Square (Saturn, Neptune, Chiron) in mutable houses. I quote from Sue Tompkins “The mutable signs are best suited to situations which demand a flexible approach- areas such as education and communication, and service to others. They are most at home in occupations which not only allow for change and flexibility, but positively need it.”
We might interpret this in the light of the fact that his Jesuit background and the fact that he has chosen a new, previously unused name, could indicate that he feels able to offer a ‘breath of fresh air’ (Grand Trine in Air!) into the corridors of the Vatican.

His path of least resistance might have been to withdraw from the world, to live a life of anonymity, serving the poor or healing the sick, in places that are far from public scrutiny. It does seem that he may have already lived this kind of life, for we hear that he has previously eschewed the finer trappings of his former post as cardinal, and opted to live a more humble existence than he might have. The North Node could be seen as a call to develop faith, and to recognise the benefits of education and learning for its use in practical and tangible ways, rather than for it’s own sake. This could be what drew him to the priesthood in the first place, and he will be challenged to remain steadfast against the opinions of those who might dissuade him from his path, and to follow his intuition, rather than bow to learned dogma. Francis’ experiences of pain and injustice, both personally and on the wider social or collective levels are likely to have led him into places where he communicates on a daily basis, that he might offer help and teaching to those who are in need. Urged to use his talent for being part of a team to its best effect, Francis is likely to face a huge challenge, a culmination of his life’s work perhaps, to use this opportunity to produce something of lasting value and meaning to others. There is the potential to fulfil dreams, and to inspire others, but he must be wary of being misinterpreted or misunderstood, as there could be issues for him here. A conscious and disciplined attention will be required in order for him to attain his objectives.

Being the Sun ruler, Jupiter holds a special place in this chart, although he is in fall in the sign of Capricorn, and we might see him as constricted in this traditionally conservative sign. However, positioned as he is, in close proximity to the Sun, Mercury & the Descendant, I feel that the Capricorn might lend a steadiness and authority that might otherwise be lacking. He is ruling the 6th & 9th houses and it may be that he can bring practicality and humour together with spirituality into his everyday service towards others. It might be that others will recognise and respect the authority of his teachings, rather than dismiss them as hot air, which could be the case in a fire or air sign! On a personal level Francis has the potential to find great meaning through a following a conventional and time honoured tradition, interpreted through his own maverick style, something for which he is likely to be remembered.

Mars, the ruler of the 10th and 5th houses, is in detriment in Libra and is traditionally thought to function poorly here. The self-seeking nature of Mars could be judged ill suited to Libra’s desire to consider the ‘other’, but in this chart we can see him as part of a Grand Trine in Air, with the Moon & Chiron. This Mars may be used to great effect acting on behalf of others, especially when injustice has been done, and also has potential in helping to convey a message with great empathy, on both a personal, and collective level. Through facing wounds within himself, Francis may be inspired to set an example as a healer or teacher, based on his own experiences, giving voice to his compassionate nature and desire to give service and healing to humanity through this bright and shining office. The midpoint structure of Mars is also notable: MA=SU/MO=PL/ASC=JU/UR.
This combination suggests a quick and determined urge to bring to fruition ideals and wishes, and to realise ambitions, whilst at the same time risking exposing the self to danger. There may even be an element of it being almost a gamble!
When we look at the event chart for Francis’ inaugural Mass, the immediate impact is the strong emphasis on the 1st 10th & 11th Houses. The MC is in Aquarius in the 9th in conjunction to Francis Moon, and the strong Pisces/Aries line up in the 10th & 11th Houses, falls mainly in Francis 9th. This suggests that his new appointment is for him, a fulfilment of his spiritual aspirations and needs, ie that he really does match the position that he has been given. Jupiter is rising in the 1st house, and is at the apex of a Yod involving Saturn and Pluto. The Saturn Pluto cycle is interpreted as having a theme of “deep cultural transformation, purgation and resurrection” I feel that this particular cycle, which started in 1982, might well be connected with the surfacing of revelations of abuse within the Catholic church. In 1981, the former Pope, Joseph Ratzinger (previous to his election) was appointed to the Vatican’s watchdog agency for faith and morals, including the investigation of serious crimes, and the first cases were emerging publicly in the United States. By 2010, when the Saturn Pluto cycle was in the waning square phase, long-simmering allegations of priest sexual abuse come to the fore in Germany, Brazil and Ireland. Now, with a new Pope, the sextile phase is in progress, and Saturn & Pluto are now in mutual reception, which I would judge would hasten somewhat, the attrition of change and transformation on our respected and recognised structures.
In the Astrology of these two charts, I sense a great deal of hope, and I strongly suspect that Francis will have a powerful impact on the Catholic Church and the way it is organised, which in time might give Catholics a renewed sense of faith in their church. In these troubled times it seems that what we need in this world is a lot less corruption and misuse of power, and a lot more authenticity, which although it is painful, is really what Pluto in Capricorn is all about.

“Tenderness is compassion, love and genuine openness to others. We must not be afraid of goodness ad tenderness. Today we celebrate the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome. Christ conferred power on Peter but what sort? Christ commands Peter: “Feed my lambs, feed my sheep.” “Let us never forget that authentic power is service and that the Pope too when exercising power must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross.”
Joanna Grant D.F.Astrol.S
April 5th 2013