Pope Francis returned to his roots this weekend with a visit to Piedmont, the northwestern region of Italy from which his ancestors hail. “My father left these lands to emigrate to Argentina,” the pope said Sunday during a mass held in Asti’s cathedral.
“And in these lands, valuable for their good agricultural products and above all for the authentic industriousness of the people, I have come to rediscover the flavor of the roots,” added Francisco, who arrived at the cathedral in a wheelchair, smiling and visibly excited.
On Saturday the pope had privately celebrated the 90th birthday of one of his cousins, descendant of a brother of his grandfather, Carlo Bergoglio, the only one of the brothers who did not emigrate to Argentina. Francisco’s grandfather, on the other hand, emigrated with his entire family, including his father.
“Thank you for your warm welcome.!”declared Jorge Bergoglio, born in Buenos Aires in 1936. “I am very grateful to the civil and religious authorities for the preparations that made it possible for this long-awaited visit to come true,” he added during the Angelus, the traditional Sunday prayer.
“I was very pleased to see you. May you be well!” declared the Pope in Piedmontese, a dialect that her grandmother, Rosa, taught her in Argentina. Francis also took the opportunity to refer to the war in Ukraine: “Let us think of all the places in the world affected by the war, in particular the tormented Ukraine, and let us continue to pray for peace.”