Among all the photos filed from US president Donald Trump’s visit to the Vatican, a theme appeared – this guy:
He looks like he’s enjoying himself with a spot of photobombing:
But in reality, he doesn’t really have a choice, because he plays a very important role in the Pope’s international affairs. He’s his translator, Monsignor Mark Miles.
That took quite a lot of searching to learn, because strangely, Msgr Miles never seems to get a credit. Here he goes again, this time with former US president Barack Obama in 2015:
The Pope is a native Spanish speaker. He can speak English, and did so publicly for the first time in the Philippines in 2013, at the end of a conference. You can hear it below:
And in 2015, he addressed a public crowd in the Philippines in English, but only to ask the crowd if he could speak in Spanish:
“I have a translator, a good translator. May I do that?”
The “good translator” was Msgr Miles, who became a bit of an overnight celebrity in the Philippines for handling it so smoothly with a distinctly British accent.
The Pope told his biographer he studied English in Ireland 30 years ago, but couldn’t get the pronunciation down because he was “tone-deaf”. He is, however, reportedly fluent in Italian and can hold conversations in German, French and Portuguese.
While he rarely gets a mention in photographers’ captions, Msgr Miles is held in warm regard by his employer. He was born in Gibraltar and in September 2015, was awarded that country’s Medallion of Distinction.
And despite his cult following online, he politely refuses interviews and claims he is “a boring customer”.
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