On Friday evening, Pope Francis had a private meeting with a group of 22 sick children who are being treated at the Department of Pediatric Oncology at the Agostino Gemelli Hospital in Rome. Parents, hospital staff, priests and religious were also in attendance during the visit. The group are on their way to pilgrimages to Lourdes and the Marian Shrine of Loreto.
The meeting of the Holy Father was organized after the children sent drawings of the Grotto of Lourdes along with a letter offering to come and pray with the Pope. According to a communique released by the Holy See, Pope Francis prayed the Our Father with the children and later sang the “Ave Maria of Lourdes.”
“While speaking with the Pope, one little girl ask that he pray for all the sick children in the world and that he bless their families. Pope Francis spoke with them, listening and answering their questions, reminding them that Jesus is at their side because “Jesus loves you very much,” the communique stated.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Pope Francis gave his Apostolic Blessing to the children while explaining to them that the blessing was “like a hug from God.”