"Never forget the first teachers, never forget the school, because they are the roots of your culture. And remembering your teachers and your schools will help you not to be uprooted, and help you bear flowers and fruits.”
Pope Francis made the exhortation on Saturday to more than 500 children of various faiths from the peripheries of the Italian cities of Rome and Milan, who came to meet him in an initiative called, “Treno dei Bambini”, the Italian for “Children’s Train”.
“Treno dei Bambini”
Part of the “Courtyard of the Gentiles” programme of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture in collaboration with the Italian state railways, the “Treno dei Bambini” initiative includes children who are not only Catholics but also Muslims, Buddhists, Orthodox, atheists and others.
The 6th edition of the “Treno dei Bambini” this year has as its theme, “Friendly City”, which aims to redevelop the run-down peripheries of cities where children face much difficulties.
In meeting the children dressed in red caps of the Italian Railways and white T-shirts emblazoned with “Treno dei Bambini”, Pope Francis did not deliver a prepared speech but fielded questions from his young guests.
Pope recalls early teachers
He recalled his own teachers of earlier years, especially Stella, who taught him in the first and third grades. The Pope said he kept contact with her throughout and later as bishop assisted her in her illness until her death at the age of 94.
Pope Francis greatly appreciated the gifts the children made for him saying “it is important because you have done it with intelligence, with your hands and with your heart.” “And when something is done with intelligence, with the heart and with the hands, it is a profound and human thing,” he said.
Once more, reminding them of the importance of not forgetting their first teachers and school, the Holy Father they will always help us in life by maintaining our roots so that we blossom and bear fruit.