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Saturday, June 3, 2017

When children arrive on a train

At mid-day today, in the Atrium of the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father, Pope Francis met with children who are participating in the fifth annual Children's Train.  This initiative, which is organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture as part of the Courtyard of the Gentiles project, brings approximately 400 children into the Vatican from various communities throughout central Italy which have been affected by recent earthquakes.  The theme, which focuses on safeguarding creation is: Little travelers, great ambassadors, custodians of the earth. 


Transcription of the dialogue between Pope Francis
and children who were present

Pope Francis
Boys and girls, I’m told that I must speak, but I like to listen! Would you like to speak? . . . Come, come. Would you like to speak? Come; tell me something. Tell me something, recount something; say something.

Girl
I want to go to a restaurant.

Pope Francis
Ah, she wants to go to a restaurant! She is hungry; she wants to eat!

Girl
Yes! Then I’ll go home.

Pope Francis
When she said: I want to go to a restaurant, it was her way of saying to the Pope: Don’t be too long! ... (he laughs, they laugh). She wants to eat! You are good. Go back, go back there. And you? ... Do you wish to speak? ...

Boy
Yes! . . . Today my mother brought a parcel . . .

Pope Francis
Good. And you, what do you want to say?

Girl
I want to say that today I’m going to the sea.

Pope Francis
You’re going to the sea? Tell us . . .

Girl
Today I’ll go to the sea with my mother and my sister and with my cousin. They are called Yasmin and Alessandra. I’m six years old, my sister is eight and Yasmin ten.

Pope Francis
All right. Good.

Boy
I represent Norcia and Cascia; the earthquake destroyed the majority of houses and churches. Since the earthquake happened, a river has overflowed that up to then, was dry. After the earthquake, given the strong tremors, the water returned and now it has very great force. We want to thank you for having hosted us, be it us children and young people of Norcia, be it all the other children and young people.

Pope Francis
Thank you. And I would like one of you to tell me how those days were after the earthquake, you ... you, come, come, tell me.

Boy
They were difficult.

Pope Francis
Ah yes. Tell me, why were they difficult? Tell me, tell me . . .

Boy
We had difficulties because of the collapsed houses and palaces – and all our schools.

Pope Francis
The schools too?

Boy
Yes.

Pope Francis
When I went there the school was in a tent . . .

Boy
It’s true.

Pope Francis
Also now?

Boy
Yes.

Pope Francis
And you, now, how have you recovered, all of you?

Boy
We have recovered because they brought us playhouses and new schools.

Pope Francis
We must recover, you know? When these disasters come, there is the strength to recover.

Boy
It’s true.

Pope Francis
And you did well.

Boy
Thank you.

Pope Francis
Thank you, thanks.

Girl
For a time we had school in the afternoon, because we were in the modules. Now, however, we have school . . . in the morning again and so we have taken up the normal schedule again.

Pope Francis
That is, normal things have begun again?

Girl
Yes, normally. We have started school again in the morning until half past one.

Pope Francis
None of you lost the year?

Girl
No, no.

Pope Francis
That’s good.

Girl
Yes, indeed. . .

Pope Francis
And how did you see the people, the courage of the people? What did you see there?

Girl
I believe that, thanks to the headmistress, we went back to school immediately, also after several problems with the school that, in any case, was unfit, but we went back immediately, without problems.

Pope Francis
Thank you.

Girl
Thank You.

Girl
My name is Gaia, I am from Acquasanta.

Pope Francis
From Acquasanta . . . Good.

Gaia
On August 24 (date of the earthquake) all my classmates, all those who frequented the school, in reality it was a great fright, because we didn’t know who was alive, what happened to the school, to others’ houses . . . Fortunately, all were saved. At Acquasanta, let’s say there aren’t any particular damages. However, our school was unfit and then they reconstructed it.

Pope Francis
And did all collaborate and work to reconstruct it?

Gaia
Yes.

Pope Francis
And that’s good, because when all work together, all for the same purpose, things go better, no?

Gaia
We say that, as a project, we in fact started the school again.

Pope Francis
Thank you. Good, good.

Gaia
Thank you. Bye-bye!

Boy
My name is Juan Camillo and I come from Norcia. After the earthquake, we did so much to start again, to do so we could go to school. Afterwards, we went into a marquee, all together, then we went in tents for a few days, then in high schools and in the end we went to modules, and we went only in the afternoon. Then. Towards March, we started in the morning in modules close to the hospital. Then we continued to go in the morning and it was much better because we were much fresher in the morning. In the afternoon, instead, we were very tired.

Pope Francis
Good.

Juan Camillo
Bye-bye.

Girl
I am Ginevra and my sister is at Fiastra . . . My grandmother’s house collapsed. My grandmother finally was saved, because her house collapsed completely in the earthquake, and not my sister and my grandmother have left. Then, they are reconstructing the house now because they must repair it.

Pope Francis
Tell me . . . Have you finished?

Ginevra
Yes.

Pope Francis
Thank you.

Girl
I am Maria Vittoria and I come from Cascia. I would like to say that, after the earthquake, there were many problems. First, we were in a company, then we were given a wooden structure. I would like you to come to Cascia one of these days.

Pope Francis
Thank you. One word; I have listened to you. What you have lived was an awful thing, because it was a calamity. Is it true or not? It’s a calamity, and calamities wound the mind, but the Lord helps us to recover. Do you or do you not trust in the Lord?

Children
Yes!

Pope Francis
Are you sure?

Children
Yes!

Pope Francis
And also in Our Lady?

Children
Yes!

Pope Francis
And now, if we trust, let’s thank Our Lady for the good things she has given us in this calamity: Hail Mary . . .

One of the things that pleases Jesus most, one of the words that please the Lord most is the word thank you so much. I want to thank you and say to you thank you for this visit, for having come here, for having come also to remember that awful moment. However, all of us must also say thank you to these children and young people – boys and girls – who have come from Rio de Janeiro, and have played music from my homeland, which have moved me. And I invite them to come close, so that we can all say thank you to them. They are called Tomorrow’s Tide: applaud them!

(Blessing)

And thank you so much for the visit!
Ah, was the train beautiful?

Children
Yes!

Pope Francis
Are you hungry?

Children
Yes!

Pope Francis
Did you hear that? They are hungry
(They say to him: it’s already ready!)
It’s ready, already ready . . . Good-bye, thank you.
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