At the conclusion of Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI personally met with a group of survivors from the January 12 earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Survivor Maria Jolene and her three-year-old son greeted the Pope on behalf of a group of 11 mothers and 13 children. Jolene told L'Osservatore Romano, "We came to see the Pope to find hope for the reconstruction of Haiti." All of the survivors lost relatives, homes and jobs in the earthquake. They now call Italy “home.”
The group has been living in the small town of Civitella d'Agliano since the disaster. Among the members of the group, which is composed of mothers and children, is Lucienne, a mother of one. Lucienne witnessed the deaths of 50 children after the school where she worked collapsed.
Marco Giulotti, a representative from the Red Cross who accompanied the group, described the effort to shelter the Haitians as an "initiative of solidarity" in which "all of the 1,600 inhabitants of the town and the volunteers of the Red Cross" are protagonists.
"After Easter," he added, "the children will begin to go to school and for the mothers, we aim to find (them) jobs."
Following the audience, Pope Benedict also received 70 small bottles of spikenard ointment, the same ointment that was used by Mary Magdalene to wash the feet of Christ.