Dear Pope Francis cover. Courtesy of Loyola Press.

Dear Pope Francis cover. Courtesy of Loyola Press.

In the Pope’s new book of letters to and from children, he tells a nine-year-old boy about his time as an altar boy.

One of the letters in the book was from Alessio, an Italian boy.

“Dear Pope Francis, Were you ever near the priest as an altar boy?” Alessio asked.

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“Dear Alessio, yes, I was an altar boy,” the Pope replied. “And you? What part among the altar boys do you have? It’s easier to do now, you know.”

The letter and the Pope’s response comes from the book “Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children around the World,” published by Loyola Press in 2016.

The Pope, who was born in 1936, told Alessio that Mass was celebrated differently when he was a boy. He served at Mass before the liturgical changes that followed the Second Vatican Council.

“Back then, the priest faced the altar, which was next to the wall, and not the people. Then the book with which he said the Mass, the missal, was placed on the right side of the altar,” he said.

“But before the reading of the Gospel it always had to be moved to the left side. That was my job: to carry it from right to left and left to right. It was exhausting! The book was heavy!” Pope Francis continued.

“I picked it up with all my energy, but I wasn’t so strong: I picked it up once and fell down, so the priest had to help me,” he said.

“Some job I did!”

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