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Pope Francis calls bereaved mom of youth who died after WYD

Pope Francis World Young Day vigil with young people in Tejo Park

© Duarte Antunes | JMJ Lisboa 2023

Aleteia - published on 09/04/23

Luca died at the age of 24, having just returned from WYD in Lisbon. Pope Francis, deeply moved by his death, wanted to share his condolences.

Luca was 24 when he died of a bacterial infection, having just returned from World Youth Day (WYD) in Lisbon at the beginning of August. His funeral took place on Friday, August 18, in Manarte, Lombardy (Italy), where he was originally from. The young man’s death has touched the hearts of many, both his friends who went to the WYD with him and the people of his village.

But there was another person who was affected by his untimely death. That person is none other than Pope Francis, who took the initiative of phoning Luca’s mother to express his condolences and offer comfort, assuring her of his prayers for her son.

Bishop Giovanni Luca Raimondi, who celebrated the funeral Mass, was able to speak with her about the phone call. “When you see the Pope, thank him for his exquisite kindness,” she told the bishop. “He cried with me, and above all he was like a father. He comforted me as if he were my father. I was very, very impressed,” she said.

“A missionary”

Luca was very involved with his parish prayer group. A fervent believer, he had gone to WYD with the Diocese of Novara.

“The Church was his family,” says Bishop Raimondi in an interview with Vatican News. “At the funeral, I quoted the three words the Pope mentioned during WYD: shine, listen, and don’t be afraid. This boy’s life is a shining light. Luca shone because he had faith, he shone because he was good, because […] he said: ‘I want to follow the Gospel of Jesus and pass it on to the young people who are younger than me.’”

Luca’s friends, who had gone to Lisbon with him, sang the WYD hymn at the church. “For the next Jubilee in 2025, when we go to Rome, Luca will be, so to speak, our patron. He will accompany us from heaven. Luca was truly a missionary. Even through his death, he bore witness to the faith.”

Pope FrancisWorld Youth Day
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