Eight-year-old Ignazio Fucci suffers from an immune deficiency associated with intestinal disease, a rare illness that affects only a handful of people around the world. He’s the only child in Italy who has it. He and his family today were able to meet Pope Francis at a private audience in Casa Santa Marta.
Ignazio was the first child in Italy to receive a marrow transplant from his mother. Since October of 2014, Ignazio and his parents are guests at Casa Bernadette, a house managed by the Children’s Project of UNITALSI (Italian National Union of Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines), which houses for free families with children who are recovering or in treatment at the Bambino Gesu paediatric hospital.
A few weeks ago, little Ignazio wrote a letter to Pope Francis asking him for prayers. The Pontiff responded by inviting the child to come this morning to Casa Santa Marta for a private meeting, also because little Ignazio cannot be in crowded places given his transplant. Accompanying the Fucci family was Emanuele Trancalini, president of UNITALSI of Rome and national Director of UNITALSI’s Children’s Project.
“It was truly an emotional moment,” said Trancalini. “After an initial moment of embarrassment, the family was put at ease by Pope Francis and recounted the long odyssey that, unfortunately, they lived to enable Ignazio to receive the necessary care. For a year they have been our guests at Casa Bernadette, and this has made it possible to create between them and us, UNITALSI volunteers, a very profound bond, like that of a true family, so much so that today they wanted me to be present, by their side, in this very important moment.”
“Pope Francis also expressed his admiration for the work UNITALSI carries out every day at the side of those who suffer, and this can only give us immense pleasure and push us even more to reinforce our commitment,” added Transcalini. “The Pontiff wished to stress that he has never seen, in any other part of the world, the solidarity and dedication that he sees in UNITALSI’s volunteers. Francis imparted his blessing to the family and the child, and expressed all his closeness and his prayer, inviting them to continue in their struggle and he assured them that God is always at their side, even in moments when it seems more difficult to see Him.”