Gift From African Youth Reminds Pope Francis of His Own Childhood

Tags: Currents Madagascar, Pope Francis, World News

By Melissa Butz and Angeles Conde

The Pope set aside time for his busy schedule in Mozambique to meet with about twenty young people participating in the programs of the foundation he promoted, Scholas Ocurrentes.

The meeting was in the Holy See’s nunciature in Maputo, and the young people told the Pope how Scholas has helped them foster communities of encounter where they live.

Pope Francis listened to their testimonies and also received gifts, like a capulana, which is a traditional African wrap skirt.

“Do I have to wear it?,” joked the Holy Father.

They also presented the Pope with music.

The Pope was very comfortable among these boys and girls whom he affectionately thanked for his visit.

“I thank you for this visit, which has touched my heart,” said Francis.

One gift especially caught the Pope’s attention for a very personal reason.

“There is one thing that touched my heart a lot – it is the rag ball. When I was a kid I played with a rag ball because at that time they were leather balls, sewn with leather, and they were very expensive.”

Pope Francis explained that neither he nor his friends had money then to buy the other type of ball.

He also suggested an artistic competition related to “rag balls.” He announced that, if it takes place, he himself would deliver the prize to the winner.

Before leaving, he left his signature and drank some mate brought to him by Argentine missionaries.