The Pope arrives in Piedmont where his roots lie

Pope Francis begins his two-day visit to the Italian city of Asti, his family hometown in the Piedmont Region, for a private family celebration, and where he is expected to celebrate public Mass on Sunday for the diocesan community.

By Vatican News staff reporter

The Northern Italian Region of Piedmont embraces Pope Francis, who is dedicating the first day of his visit to his parents’ hometown, revisiting his family origins, and meeting up with his relatives. These include his cousins Carla Rabezzana, who lives in Portacomaro, in the province of Asti, and has just turned ninety,  Delia Gai, living in the nearby hamlet of Tigliole, and Nella Bergoglio, who shares with him her great-great-grandfather Giuseppe.

The emotion for the event is palpable and comparable to that of the day after his election in 2013, say the editors of the local media outlet Gazzetta d'Asti.

Arrival at Portacomaro

The Pope arrived by helicopter at the sports field of Portacomaro , where his parents hailed from,  shortly before noon. He was welcomed by the parish priest, Don Luigino Trinchero, and greeted by hundreds of locals as he headed by car to his relatives’ home after stopping in a church.

Going back to his roots

Pope Francis has never lost touch with his family of origin and still has strong affective ties with Piedmont, as he confirmed in an interview published on Friday by the Italian newspaper “La Stampa” of Turin, and by his  cousin Nella.   “He used to come here to visit other relatives when he went to Turin to see his closest cousins”, she said in a recent interview for a documentary produced by Italian networks Telepace and Rete 7 on the occasion of the visit.

Nella had  epistolary contacts with then Jorge Bergoglio before his election to the papacy. Then, on Christmas Day 2021, she received a surprise phone call. When she heard a voice saying “It's Pope Francis”, at first she didn’t believe him.  Then, she said , “When I realized it was really him I got emotional, I cried, I was overwhelmed, and I don't remember what we said to each other".  

After having lunch in Portocomaro with his cousin and relatives, Pope Francis then paid a visit in the afternoon to nearby retirement and hospitality home for the elderly, briefly greeting the guests in the hall and talking with them individually before giving them his blessing. The Pope then travelled to Tigliole, hamlet of San Carlo, to visit the other cousin.

The Pope will continue his visit tomorrow with a public Mass celebrated for the diocesan community in Asti Cathedral.

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Photos from the Pope's arrival and visit on Saturday to Asti in the Piedmont region of Italy
19 November 2022, 16:27