Loreto, Italy, Jul 23, 2017 / 03:57 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Nine-year-old Andrea is an Italian boy who joined 130 children last month for a “Pilgrimage of Joy” to the Marian Shrine of Loreto, Italy. He was so moved by the experience that he wrote a letter about it to Pope Francis, inviting the Pope to accompany him and the other children for another pilgrimage next year. And the Pope offered a surprising response, leaving the door open to the possibility in a letter of reply.
“Thanks for the invitation you have made me to go on a pilgrimage with you, being with children is for me the greatest joy. A proverb says: 'Never say never.' Therefore let us entrust this dream into the hands of Providence,” the Pope wrote.
Andrea’s letter to Pope Francis was sent on behalf of himself and the 130 other children who traveled to the Marian Shrine of Loreto from June 22-26. The letter was reprinted by several Italian media outlets. The pilgrimage was organized by the Rome-Lazio chapter of the National Italian Union of Transportation of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines (UNITALSI) with the goal of teaching young children the importance of prayer and closeness to God, while at the same time allowing them to play, have fun, and make new friends.
“We are more than 130 children, and many are sick, others in wheelchairs and others are going alone and are accompanied by some nuns,” Andrea said in his letter, adding that they are praying for the Pope every day. Andrea also included a group photo of all the children, and asked for the Holy Father’s blessing.
Pope Francis responded saying that “it was so nice to receive your letter and to hear about the enriching adventure you experienced with UNITALSI during the Pilgrimage of Joy to Loreto for children.” “Thanks also for the group photo you sent me, where I could see that there are a lot of you, and you all look so nice. As I was looking at each face in the photograph, I was praying to Our Lady of Loreto for you, and I blessed you straight from the heart, along with your parents, volunteers, priests and the UNITALSI leaders,” the Pope said in his reply.