In a whirlwind trip, Lucas Schaerer and his family — friends of Pope Francis from his time in Buenos Aires — traveled to the Vatican, where the Pope baptized their daughters, Simona and Charo.
“The ceremony was beautiful and simple…Francis celebrated Mass and then we went to a sitting room, where we spoke for a long time,” Argentinian journalist Mercedes Ninci, a close friend of the couple, recalled in comments posted to the Vatican blog Il Sismografo Aug. 12.
Ninci, who works for Radio Mitre’s “El Diario de Mariana,” is the godmother to newborn Simona, and was present in the chapel of the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse for the baptisms. According to the journalist, Lucas and his wife Ana have known the Pope for some time, and are both active members in “The Alameda” Foundation. Dedicated to fighting against human and drug trafficking, the organization is well-known in Latin America, and has always had Francis’ strong support.
In an interview with Ciudad.com published Aug. 10, Ninci recalled how Lucas and Ana sent the Pope a sonogram image of their baby when they found out they were pregnant. Once the Pope received it, she said, he offered to baptize the baby when she was born.
When the time came, everything happened “suddenly,” she said, and recounted that just a few days before they left “Lucas called me asking if I wanted to be the godmother of the baby, Simona, and told me (the baptism) was in the Vatican.”
Everything happened quickly and “with almost no money,” Ninci said, explaining that since they didn’t have time to find a place to stay when they got to Rome, Pope Francis arranged for them to stay in a convent that hosts pilgrims.
After arriving to the Eternal City Aug. 5, the couple returned to Buenos Aires on the 10th. In addition to baptizing the newborn Simona, Francis also baptized Ana’s older daughter, Charo, who is 9.
Also a member of “The Alameda” foundation, Ninci said that she had met the Pope while he was still in Buenos Aires, but that they never developed a close friendship. Now, after being present for the Mass and speaking with the Pope after, “it was amazing to meet a simple and profoundly human shepherd,” she said in the comments posted to Il Sismografo.
One thing that Ninci said immediately caught her attention was that when the Pope walked in to greet them he was alone, appearing without the usual entourage that normally comes with people in a position like his. In her responses to Ciudad.com, the journalist said she was excited to be with someone “so simple and dedicated to the people, so detached from power.”
She recalled how the Pope spoke a lot about his own family and childhood, specifically his mother, father and four siblings. Francis also said a lot of things that “made me think,” Ninci explained, such as “to win war you must not to start it.”
“I, the warrior that I am, live battling for things I shouldn't,” she said. “Now that I've come back I haven't fought with anyone, at least not yet.”
However, Ninci said the most important and exciting thing the Pope told her was when he said, “The fact that you are a poor journalist speaks well of you.”
On seeing the Pope so down to earth and detached from his office, “spiritually and attitudinally it did me well,” she said.