By Sergio Centofanti
As the Pope was passing by on his way to the meeting with young people and families in Iasi on Saturday afternoon, a proud grandmother held up her grandchild for him to bless. Pope Francis used that image to make a point at the end of his discourse.
Speaking off the cuff, he said:
“I am nearly finished, I have just one more paragraph, but I still want to tell you about an experience I had just as I was coming into the Square. There was an elderly lady, quite elderly, a grandmother. In her arms she held her grandchild, about two months old, not more. As I passed by, she showed me the child. She smiled, it was a knowing smile, as if she was saying to me: “Look, now I can dream!” I was very moved in that moment and I didn’t have the courage to go and bring her up here (onto the stage). That’s why I am telling you. Grandparents dream when their grandchildren go forward, and grandchildren have courage when they take their roots from their grandparents”.
Earlier, during his prepared speech, the Pope told the young people present at the event: “As you continue to grow in every way – stronger, older and even in importance – do not forget the most beautiful and worthwhile lesson you learned at home. It is the wisdom that comes from age. When you grow up, do not forget your mother and your grandmother, and the simple but robust faith that gave them the strength and tenacity to keep going and not to give up. It is a reason for you to give thanks and to ask for the generosity, courage and selflessness of a “home-grown” faith that is unobtrusive, yet slowly but surely builds up the Kingdom of God”.
On other occasions, Pope Francis has recounted his personal experience with his own grandmother, Rosa, a woman of faith who came from a peasant family in Piedmont, Italy, and emigrated to Argentina to escape poverty. During the Pentecost Vigil of 2013, the Pope said it was his grandmother who first transmitted the Christian faith to him.
“I had the grace to grow up in a family where faith was lived in a simple and concrete way; but it was above all my grandmother, my father's mother, who marked my path of faith. She was a woman who explained to us, who spoke to us about Jesus, who taught us the Catechism. I always remember that on Good Friday evening she would take us to the candlelight procession, and at the end of this procession… my grandmother would make us children kneel, and she would say: "Look, he is dead, but tomorrow he will rise again". I received the first Christian announcement from this woman, from my grandmother! That's beautiful! The first announcement at home, with the family! And this makes me think of the love of many mothers and grandmothers in the transmission of the faith. It is they who transmit the faith”.