A Spanish teen with a mental disability has received a letter from Pope Francis after he joined a pilgrimage at the Camino de Santiago earlier this month.
Fifteen-year-old Alvaro Calvente, who is from Malaga, Spain, walked the pilgrimage route with his father and their family friend. They hiked from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela—which was more than 62 miles of the Camino de Santiago trail and is also known as “the French Way.”
Throughout his journey, not only did Alvaro carry his own faith, but also the prayer intentions of those who “joined” him in his journey. Their pilgrimage is documented on Twitter, @CaminodeAlvaro. (Read: Pilgrims Can Now Walk the Camino de Santiago After Lockdown)
In his Twitter bio, Alvaro says that it is his dream “to meet the Pope.” In fact, he sends him letters to express his good wishes.
Lolo Kiko Wrote Back
Le agradecemos al Santo Padre esta carta que acogemos con verdadero amor. Hoy estamos de peregrinación en el lugar de nacimiento de Sto Domingo de Guzman. Aquí hemos leído la carta y hemos rezado por Su Santidad como hace Álvaro todos los días y a todas horas. ¡Dios lo bendiga! pic.twitter.com/ayHnpOBqvZ— El Camino de Álvaro (@CaminodeAlvaro) July 21, 2020
On July 20, Pope Francis responded to Alvaro’s letter and thanked him “for having the courage to walk and inviting many to walk with you.” (Read: Raising a Child With Autism: What This Mom Wants You to Know)
“In the midst of the pandemic which we have to live with, with you naturalness, joy, and simplicity, you were able to set in motion the hope of many of the people you met on the road or on social networks,” Lolo Kiko wrote.
Pope Francis further said that Alvaro’s journey taught others “not to be afraid and to rediscover their joy, because we never walk alone.”
“The Lord,” the Pope said, “always walks beside us. Thank you for your witness and prayers.” He then blessed Alvaro and asked Our Lady of Mount Carmel to watch over him.
“Give my greetings to your parents and brothers and sisters,” concluded Pope Francis. “And please do not forget to pray for me.”
Alvaro is the seventh of 10 children. His family is part of the Neocatechumenal Way Catholic community. (Read: What adults can learn from children, according to Pope Francis)
The Camino de Santiago, sometimes called “the Way of St. James,” is a network of trails across Europe which lead to the tomb of St. James in Santiago.