Written by Paolo Sorrentino
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino
Esther, a young Vatican resident, and her husband -- a member of the Swiss Guard -- Peter make cold and passionless love in their Vatican City bedroom.
A scared little boy is welcomed to the orphanage by a young Sister Mary. She greets him with affection and instructs him to call her “Ma.”
In the Vatican, Sister Mary talks to Dussolier, the young boy she greeted and now a cardinal, in his room. She expresses her love for both him and Lenny. Cardinal Dussolier admits he is unhappy with his work as a cardinal and living in the Vatican.
“I do not have an image, my good lady, because I am no one.” - Lenny Belardo
Lenny, who has taken the name Pius XIII, sits in the papal library with Voiello, Amatucci, and Sofia, the Vatican’s marketing director. They discuss the need to put the pope’s image on official merchandise, but Lenny refuses, wanting only to be seen in shadow. Sofia protests and Lenny challenges her by asking what influential cultural figures like J.D. Salinger, Stanley Kubrick, Banksy and Daft Punk have in common. When she guesses incorrectly, Lenny informs her none of them allow themselves to be photographed.
Voiello and Amatucci meet to discuss what Amatucci has discovered about Lenny’s childhood: Lenny’s parents abandoned him at Sister Mary’s orphanage, where he and Dussolier become best friends. Sister Mary recommended Lenny to Cardinal Spencer, who had a relationship with the orphanage. Spencer mentored the young man throughout his career until he became a cardinal. Voiello and Amatucci speculate Spencer favors Lenny because he is not threatened by him.
Lenny goes to the warehouse to see all the gifts he has been sent. He coaxes an anxious kangaroo from its enclosure and demands it be set free in the Vatican gardens.
Voiello and Sister Mary tensely discuss Lenny’s style, which Mary defends, citing Voiello’s outdated and conservative perspective. Sister Mary secretly follows Voiello that evening when he sneaks out of Vatican City. She watches as a woman follows him into an apartment building; peering from the parking lot across the street, she is surprised to see Voiello feeding a disabled teenager in a wheelchair.
Lenny meets with Mario Assente, the prefect of the congregation, who admits he did not vote for Lenny at the conclave because he assumed he was a conservative. Lenny appreciates his honesty and then asks Mario about his sexuality, pushing the prefect to admit he is gay.
Don Tommaso shares the news around the Vatican with Lenny, including speculation that Sister Mary is the puppet master behind his papacy.
“I was supposed to be pope.” - Cardinal Michael Spencer
Lenny calls Sister Mary into his library and demands she refer to him as "His Holiness." Despite being hurt by this, Sister Mary obliges. Lenny then goes to Cardinal Spencer’s house, where Spencer recites a passage about how one should not trust a silent supporter of god -- Lenny. He tells Lenny he will be a bad pope because he doesn’t know how to love himself and cannot love anyone else. Spencer reveals he was supposed to be pope, not Lenny. Lenny, who saw Spencer as a father figure, is hurt by his hostility.
Upset, Lenny goes to Sister Mary’s room and asks about his parents. She tells him they left him to go to Venice; he is optimistic they could still be there. Lenny blames his abandonment as the reason why he cannot see God. Sister Mary assures him this was all part of God’s plan, and when Lenny continues to indulge in self-pity, Sister Mary slaps him.
Pius XIII delivers his homily to the people in the square, aggressively accusing the faithful of forgetting God, which he says he will not tolerate. The crowd is paralyzed by fear, and it begins to rain.