“Dear Filomena, It terrifies me to think of the cruelty that disfigured your face, offending your dignity as a woman and as a mother …” With these heartfelt words, Pope Francis wrote to a victim of domestic abuse, a wife and mother who was disfigured with acid by her husband, reported the daily La Repubblica this week.
“I ask your forgiveness, taking upon myself the burden of a humanity that doesn’t know how to ask forgiveness of those who, in the prevailing indifference, live daily offended, trampled upon and marginalized,” he said to the Italian woman. “I pray for you so that the courage you’ve shown with singular beauty will become a blow against indifference.”
The 58-year-old woman read this letter on the set of a program broadcast on Rai Uno Television on the International Day Against Violence Against Women on November 25.
The Supreme Pontiff sent this letter to her last June after she sent him her book Another Life: It’s Not a Romance, It’s the Courage to Testify.
Receiving this letter was “a touching moment,” Filomena said during the show. “These are not words written at random, but by Pope Francis in person. It is a letter that I treasure and that gives me the strength to move forward.”
For 35 years, Filomena Lamberti suffered the violence and abuse of her husband, who was tormented by jealousy. Seeing her son imitate his father’s violent actions against his fiancée, she finally filed for divorce. The husband then reacted by spraying her face with acid while she was asleep.