VATICAN CITY — On November 23, in the small Apulian town of Massafra, in the southeastern Italian province of Taranto, a funeral was celebrated for young Paolina, a 10-year-old girl who had died of a terrible disease.
The funeral Mass was offered at the Church of St. Leopold Mandic, and was celebrated by the parish priest, Don Michele Quaranta, in the presence of the entire town, including the mayor, Fabrizio Quarto, who was moved by the poignant story of this young girl.
During the homily, Fr. Michele read a letter Paolina had received from Pope Francis. It came in response to a letter which the girl’s mother had sent to the pope, asking him to bless her daughter and to pray for her.
Pope Francis would have received Paolina in the Vatican on October 26, but she was unable to keep the appointment, as she wasn’t well enough to make the journey.
Here is the pope’s letter to Paolina:
Your photos are on my desk, for in your truly special gaze I see the light of goodness and innocence. Thank you for sending them to me! Read this letter together with your mother, and the kiss that she will give you now will be a kiss from the pope.
I join my hands to yours and to those of all who are praying for you. In this way, we will form a long chain which, I am certain, will reach all the way to heaven. But remember that you are the first link in this chain, because you have Jesus in your heart! Remember this! And so, speak with him, talk to him about yourself, but also talk about your mother and father who need very much to be helped and comforted in the face of the very difficult steps ahead of them. You shall certainly be very good at suggesting to Jesus what to do for them! Remember, please, to tell him what he should do for me, as I remind him of what he should do for you. I give you a big, big hug and I bless you with all my heart, together with your parents and loved ones.