Vatican City, Sep 17, 2020 / 09:32 am (CNA).- Pope Francis’ newest prayer card, which he hands out to the people he meets, features a grandmother and grandchild from his trip to Romania in early summer 2019.
Pope Francis was moved by the smile of a woman he saw among the crowds from his popemobile in the city of Iaşi.
Though brief, that moment made an impression on Francis, who mentioned her in his speech soon after, from the square in front of the Palace of Culture.
“I do not want to neglect to tell you about an experience I had just as I was coming into the square,” he told those gathered in the square June 2, 2019. “There was an elderly lady, quite elderly, a grandmother. In her arms was a grandchild, about two months old, not more.”
“As I passed by, she showed him to me,” the pope described. “She smiled, and smiled with a knowing smile, as if she was saying to me: ‘Look, now I can dream!’ I was very moved in that moment and I didn’t have the courage to go and bring her up here.”
Francis tied the encounter to his message about the importance of the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren.
The pope often speaks to young people about the importance of being close to their familial, cultural, and religious roots, as learned from their grandparents. He also said in Romania the young are important for the elderly: “when young and old meet, the elderly are not afraid to dream,” he said.
A photo was snapped of the grandmother and child by a Vatican photographer as he passed by, and now, at Francis’ request, has been made into a prayer card.
On the back of the card are the pope’s impromptu comments in Romania about the experience.
Pope Francis spoke again about his experience seeing the grandmother and grandchild in his comments aboard the papal plane from Romania to Rome the next day.
He said “I am happy because yesterday I referenced that grandmother… it was a gesture of understanding with the eyes.”
“At that moment I was so emotional, that I did not react and then the popemobile went ahead and I could not tell this grandmother to come, to show this gesture, and I said to the Lord Jesus: ‘It is a pain, but you have the ability to solve it!’”
Francis said he was glad the Vatican photographer saw this moment happening and snapped the photo, and said he was happy to see the image had been made public.
He added that he felt like the elderly woman was saying to him “these are the roots. This will grow, it will not be like me, but I give my [roots].”
Pope Francis has had other touching encounters with elderly women while on foreign trips. In Trujillo, Peru, in January 2018, he stopped the popemobile when he saw the sign of a woman which read: “My name is Trinidad I’m 99 years old. I cannot see. I want to touch your hand.”
Francis embraced her and gave her his blessing.