Pope Francis — bishop of Rome, sovereign of the Vatican City State, his holiness — has another title to add to his papal resume: Rolling Stone cover subject.
The pope graces the cover of the iconic music magazine this week for "The Times They Are A-Changin': Inside the Pope's gentle revolution," a 7,700-word profile by contributing editor Mark Binelli, who went inside the Vatican to report on Francis' swift break from tradition.
"In less than a year since his papacy began, Pope Francis has done much to separate himself from past popes and establish himself as a people's pope," Binelli writes.
More from the profile:
Surprising desk clerks at the hotel where he'd been staying during the papal conclave by showing up to pay his own bill; panicking bodyguards by swigging from a cup of maté (the highly caffeinated tealike beverage popular throughout South America) handed to him by a stranger during a visit to Brazil; cracking up cardinals with jokes at his own expense hours after being elected (to those assembled at his first official dinner as pope, he deadpanned, "May God forgive you for what you've done").
After the disastrous papacy of Benedict, a staunch traditionalist who looked like he should be wearing a striped shirt with knife-fingered gloves and menacing teenagers in their nightmares, Francis' basic mastery of skills like smiling in public seemed a small miracle to the average Catholic. But he had far more radical changes in mind. By eschewing the papal palace for a modest two-room apartment, by publicly scolding church leaders for being "obsessed" with divisive social issues like gay marriage, birth control and abortion ("Who am I to judge?" Francis famously replied when asked his views on homosexual priests) and – perhaps most astonishingly of all – by devoting much of his first major written teaching to a scathing critique of unchecked free-market capitalism, the pope revealed his own obsessions to be more in line with the boss' son.
Francis has been on other major magazine covers, including Time magazine, which declared him its 2013 Person of the Year last month. (It was the second time in a year Time had run a pope cover.)
Francis is the first pope to make the cover of Rolling Stone, the so-called "music bible" founded in 1967 by Jann Wenner, something bands including the Velvet Underground, Public Enemy, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine each failed to do.