Translated from the FI Italian site immacolata.com:
The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate since 1998 have had custody of a small church, in Lungotevere Vatican, a few steps from the Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome, dedicated to the Virgin of the Annunciation and for this reason called “The Nunziatina”. The church is the oratory of the Venerable Apostolic Confraternity of St. Michael the Archangel and the Holy Spirit in Saxia, and the fact that it is located right at the end of the bridge Ponte Vittorio Emmanuele, lends itself as a place for a quick prayer for many people who live or work nearby. In October 2002, the brothers who staff the church, began to notice someone among the many visitors that come and go, who frequently came at 9.00 am. In particular, he would stop to pray with great devotion and meditation in front of the beautiful statue of St. Therese of the Child Jesus (pictured below), and then go away.
He apparently was a priest not very young, yet tall and stately. We were curious not only because of the punctuality with which he arrived, but also his attitude, both very devout and simple. To give you an idea, at the end of the prayer he used to do as many “old ladies” who are sometimes looked down upon in our country and touched the statue and kissed it. Our curiosity increased even more once the brothers noticed that the priest had a cassock with red buttons. A cardinal?! But who could it be?
One day, the brother who for security reasons, because he was the sacristan, had to stay in the church the whole morning, approached him and, quite simply, spoke to him. To Fra Anselmo M. Marcos, (the name of the brother) the person responded with equal simplicity proving to be Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, who at that time was in Rome for ministry. The Cardinal and the friar became good friends, and several times the Cardinal wished to be accompanied by him in the various celebrations at which he had to officiate with other cardinals. Fra Anselmo Marcos is now a missionary in Nigeria and when he learned of the Conclave, he prayed so much to Our Lady of Fatima that his friend, whom he has never forgotten, might become Pope … and it was granted.
I wonder if Pope Francis still remembers that friar, after 10 years. And who knows if before entering the Conclave, he may have stopped by the church to pray before his St. Therese. In these 10 years the brothers who staff the church have changed and he might not have been recognized, but we think that Pope Francis has certainly passed by the church and has not forgotten the little friar who, especially now, continues to pray for him. Perhaps they want to come back again to pray there?
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