Monday, December 09, 2013

Pope tells how a nun saved his life as a young man

Pope Francis has revealed his debt to a nun who saved his life by increasing his medication when he suffered from a lung condition at the age of 21. 

In a new book, 'I Fioretti di Papa Francesco' ('The Little Flowers of Pope Francis'), the pontiff speaks of his gratitude to the nuns who worked in the hospital where he was ill as a young man.

"I am alive thanks to one of them," Pope Francis told Andrea Tornielli, a Vatican journalist who wrote the book.

"When I had lung problems in the hospital, the doctor gave me penicillin and antibiotics in small doses.

"The nun who was on the ward tripled that because she had an intuition, she knew what to do, because she was with the ill all day long.

"The doctor, who was very good, spent his time in a laboratory, but the nun was living on the front line and talking with those on the front line every day."

Pope Francis's lung illness attracted questions when he became Pope. His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, resigned due to his failing health and inability to handle the job.

Pope Francis (right) reportedly had three cysts on his lung before part of it was removed.

Mr Tornielli said yesterday that the Pope's "health is good and he shows great stamina".

He also disclosed that Pope Francis once phoned a cleaning woman employed at Buenos Aires airport, who sought his support for her drug-addicted son.

After receiving her message, which she had written on a table napkin and passed to one of his colleagues at the airport, the Pope told her he would pray for them.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis yesterday went to the heart of Rome's fanciest shopping district and prayed that the poor are never forgotten.

His appearance at the foot of the Spanish Steps follows a papal tradition of public prayer before a statue representing Mary on December 8, a church holiday honouring the mother of Jesus. 

That date also marks the official start of Rome's Christmas shopping season.

The Pope's route from the Vatican took him down Via Condotti, which is lined with swanky designer stores.

He prayed aloud that people "never be left indifferent to the cries of the poor".

He wore a white, full-length, double-breasted coat in the chill as he greeted disabled, faithful, children and others among the thousands in the square who took a break from window shopping and gift buying.
Then, in a departure from past popes who would sit in the back seat of a chauffeured Vatican car, Francis sat up front, next to the driver, whom he chatted with as he was driven across town. 

After a brief stop to pray at Rome's St Mary Major Basilica, Francis returned to Vatican City.

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