Amalia Damonte was just 12 years old when the young pope sent her a "love letter". The latter was of the same age as Amalia and lived like her in the Buenos Aires suburb of Flores.
According to Amalia, the handwritten letter contained the drawing of "a white house which had a red roof". Her ardent admirer promised that "This is what I will buy when we marry."
Amalia revealed that she did not reply to the letter as her parents found out about the budding romance. "My mom broke it off. Good Lord. She came to get me at the school and she said 'so, you're getting letters from a boy?!'" Amalia told the Associated Press.
"My father hit me because I had dared to write a note to a boy," she said. Not surprisingly, Amalia wanted her ardent neighbour "to disappear from the map."
The wish came true. "I never saw him after that - my parents kept me away from him and did everything possible to separate us." Amalia said that she has "nothing to hide, as it was a thing between children and totally pure."
Amalia recalled how the future pontiff vowed: "If I don't marry you, I'm going to be a priest."The Telegraph quoted her as saying: "I think he asked me to marry him because he wanted to follow the example he had seen at home and form a family." To a query about whether she was in love with him back then, Amalia replied: "At that age, I didn't know love - I only knew love when I was much older. I was just a little thing."
She later learnt that he had joined the Jesuit order. "When my grandmother died, he did a great funeral mass in the church of San Jose de Flores. And if he had remained there, he would have presided over my marriage ceremony. He was there until July that year and I got married in December," she added.