One thing about Pope Francis and his historic New York City appearance. He won’t be the Pope of Greenwich Village.

In keeping with tradition of visits by his Papal predecessors, the Catholic Church’s leading man — whose words about the devastating effects of hyper-capitalism and the idolatry of money has touched non-Catholics the world over — will stay for two nights in an Upper East Side townhouse that has an interesting history.

The residence of the Holy See.

The residence of the Holy See.

The neo-Renaissance-style home (photo above) at 20 East 72nd has a storied tradition of Papal visits, but in the case of Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope, the connection of this property to Regis High School ought to make him feel especially at home.

History of the Holy See House

The 11,000-square-foot home once belonged to Julia Murphy Grant, the daughter of U.S. Senator from New York Edward Murphy and widow of Hugh J. Grant, the youngest man ever elected Mayor of New York City (1889 until 1892). Designed by Rose & Stone, the home was built in 1894 and is five stories tall.

The Grant family for several generations maintained a devout Catholic lifestyle and even constructed a private chapel in their townhouse called The Chapel of the Holy Spirit. It was designed by Maginnis and Walsh, the same architects responsible for St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Regis High School.

Regis High School archivists say that the $9 million estate left to Mrs. Grant at the time of her husband’s sudden death in 1910 allowed the devout widow the chance to fund the establishment of Regis, the stellar tuition-free, Jesuit high school just a few blocks from her home.

Julia Grant and her children.

Julia Grant died in 1944 and in 1975, Hugh Grant Jr. transferred the home to the Archdiocese of New York.

“Since then, the inconspicuous townhouse on the residential block of East 72nd Street between Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue has served as the official residence of the Apostolic Nuncio from the Holy See to the United Nations. Since John Paul II’s visit to New York City in 1979, it has also served as the home welcoming the Pope for overnight stays,’’ Regis High School said.

Hugh Grant welcomes Pope John Paul II in the house in Oct. 1979.

Hugh Grant Jr. welcomes Pope John Paul II in the house in Oct. 1979.

In 2011, The Archbishop transferred its deed to the Holy See, the government of the Catholic Church based in Vatican City. According to NYC Department of Finance records, the property is valued at around $24 million.

holy seeWhile the property has a grand history, it is noted for its modest and monastic interior. That should please Pope Francis, who shunned the grandiose Vatican City premises occupied by his predecessors, choosing instead to live in a simple suite at a Vatican hotel called the Casa Santa Marta. In his native Argentina, the humble Jesuit lived in an apartment, cooked for himself and preferred public transportation.

Chances are you won’t be seeing Francis on the No. 1 train this week, however, though he did exit the airport in D.C. in a little Fiat.

The video below describes how the home came to be owned by the Holy See.