Pope Francis replies 9-year-old boy’s message on sick children

A boy aged just nine wrote to Pope Francis to invite him to a pilgrimage with more than 100 sick children – and received a remarkable response.
The Pope not only took the time to reply in person. He hinted strongly that he might indeed consider attending the annual pilgrimage in Loreto, Italy next year.
‘Thank you for the invitation you have made me to come to pilgrimage with you,’ the Pope relied to Andrea. ‘To be with children for me is the greatest joy. A proverb says “never say never!” And therefore we entrust this dream to Providence.’
Andrea took part in the annual ‘pilgrimage of joy’ to the popular Catholic Marian shrine, Basilica della Santa Casa, with his sister Gaia, one of more than 130 sick and disabled children, many in wheelchairs. They were accompanied by nuns.
The pilgrimage is organised by the charity Unitalsi, the National Union of Sick Transportation in Lourdes and International Sanctuaries.
Andrea wrote afterwards: ‘Dear Pope Francis, my name is Andrea, I am nine years old and I live in Latina, I received Jesus for the first time on Sunday June 4.
‘Mom thought about giving me a chance to join me with my sister Gaia at the pilgrimage of sick children organised by the United Roman Latium section. We are more than 130 children and many are sick, others in wheelchairs and others are alone and accompanied by some nuns.
‘I play and talk to everyone and I’ve learned so many things. Don Gianni here every day makes us pray for you and then I thought to let you know. Yesterday we did the photo together. I thought to give it a gift: so you see us all, although there are children who could not be photographed. But we know each other and tell you that we love you. Can I ask you two things?
‘At the end of Mass they always give us the blessing. Can I ask you to bless when you look at the picture to be as good as tomorrow tomorrow? And, if you can, why not come to Loreto next year? I have already said that the same pilgrimage to children in Loreto will be done next year in June…you know what a beautiful one it would be! Now I’ll leave you and if I could embrace you as I do with mom and dad.’
The Pope replied: ‘Dear Andrea, it was great to receive your letter and to know about your rich experience with the Unitalsi together with the joyous pilgrimage to Loreto for the children. Someone also told me that before you sent the letter you read it to everyone, your friends, and when you asked them if they were happy if you sent it to me, they applauded strongly! Thanks then to you for the beautiful words and thanks to all your Loreto friends.’
And he ended with his encouraging note: ‘Never say never.’

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