Pope Francis has extended an invitation to a family of nurses who were among the medical professionals serving in the frontlines amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Four adult siblings, all nurses, will meet Pope Francis on Friday in a private audience, together with their families. It was the pope who personally called the two brothers and two sisters who worked on the front lines in Italy and Switzerland. (Read: Medical Workers Given Free Access To Vatican Museums)
They will be presenting a box full of letters and messages of some of those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic—the sick, healthcare workers, and those who lost their loved ones to the disease.
Messengers of Hope
Valerio Mautone, 43, will be traveling to the papal audience on foot. He will walk for five days on the ancient Via Francigena pilgrimage route, from Viterbo to Rome. (Read: Pope Cheers for Teenage PWD on Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage) His sister Maria, 36, asked for prayers on Facebook for her brother. She said that Valerio is making the pilgrimage for their family and for all the nurses and sick people in the world.
Family of Nurses
The family of nurses received attention from local media outlets during the lockdown on Italy. Their father was also a nurse for 40 years. Three of the spouses in the family are nurses, too. (Read: 5 Filipino nurses who’ll inspire you to stay strong and compassionate amid COVID-19 crisis)
“It is the profession we love. Today even more,” Raffaele, the oldest brother, said. said. His wife is also a nurse and they have three children.
Stefania, another sister, said that she was tempted to stay at home at the beginning of the pandemic. “But after a week, I said to myself: ‘But one day what will I tell my daughter? That I ran away?’ I trusted in God and I started,” she said. “Rediscovering humanity is the only cure.”
Stefania and the other nurses have helped patients make video calls since relatives were not allowed to visit. She would also sing classing Neapolitan songs or Schubert’s “Ave Maria” to provide some lightness and cheer. (Read: 4 Millennial Frontliners Who Are Making A Big Difference)
Maria, on the other hand, works in a general surgery ward which was turned into a subintensive care unit for COVID-19 patients. “I saw hell with my own eyes and I was not used to seeing all these dead,” she said. “The only way to stay close to the sick is with a touch.”
Raffaele was inspired by his fellow nurses as they hold the hands of the patients—being with them or listening to their stories. “We need to change course both towards people and towards nature. This virus has taught us this and our love must be even more contagious,” he said.