Vatican City, Aug 31, 2020 / 04:30 am
Four adult siblings, all nurses who worked with coronavirus patients during the worst of the pandemic, will on Friday meet Pope Francis, together with their families.
The invitation for the private audience was extended after Pope Francis called the two brothers and two sisters, who have been working on the front line against COVID-19 in Italy and Switzerland.
“The pontiff wants to embrace us all,” Raffaele Mautone, the oldest brother, told the Italian-language Swiss newspaper La Regione.
The 13 family members will present to Pope Francis a box full of the letters and writings of some of those who have been directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic -- the sick, healthcare workers, and those mourning the death of a loved one.
One brother, Valerio, 43, is traveling to the papal audience on foot. Over five days, he is walking about 50 miles of the ancient Via Francigena pilgrimage route, from Viterbo to Rome, to arrive at their Sept. 4 meeting with Pope Francis.
His sister Maria, 36, asked for prayers on Facebook for “our pilgrim,” who she said is making the pilgrimage for their family and for all the nurses and sick people in the world.
After revealing that she would be meeting the pope, Maria wrote on Facebook that she is “very happy” to bring anyone’s letter to Francis. “You must not be ashamed or apologize... Thank you for having exposed your fears, thoughts, concerns,” she said.
The family of nurses started to receive attention from local media outlets during Italy’s government-imposed lockdown, when the coronavirus outbreak was at its worst.