TIME Pope Franics

Pope Francis Celebrates a Year of Change at the Vatican

Pope Francis holds his weekly general audience on March 5, 2014 at St. Peter's square in Vatican City.
Pope Francis holds his weekly general audience on March 5, 2014 at St. Peter's square in Vatican City. Andreas Solara—AFP/Getty Images

A year after becoming the first non-European pope in more than a millennium, the Argentine pontiff continues to challenge the status quo. That's evident again in his choice to celebrate his first year, untraditionally, outside the walls of the Holy See

Pope Francis has spent his first year in office challenging Vatican custom and the he’ll celebrate the anniversary of his papacy in the same fashion, as the first pope in decades to mark the occasion outside the Vatican walls.

The first non-European pope in more than a millennium will spend the week of preaching and prayer at a retreat with the Roman Curia in a small town 15 miles from the Vatican. The decision to break with tradition by leading the Curia—the Vatican bureaucracy—outside the Holy See for his one-year anniversary evokes Francis’ efforts to reform a church he has criticized for being too insular.

The Vatican has also marked Francis’ first year in office with the release of an e-book that compiles quotations from the pope’s first year in office.

In the 12 months since he succeeded the conservative and tradition-bound Pope Benedict, Francis hasn’t shied from challenging Vatican rules and Catholic custom. He travels in a Ford Focus rather than the papal limousine; he lives in the Vatican hotel rather than the Vatican’s papal apartments; he raised traditionalist eyebrows when, on a flight after a visit to Brazil, he was asked his opinion on homosexuality and answered, “Who am I to judge?” The Argentine-born pope—and TIME’s 2014 Person of the Year—has imbued his office with rare rock star status. He has initiated a profound change in style—if not always in underlying substance—at the Vatican that many believe is reinvigorating the world’s largest religion.

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