Nation/World

Pope receives unexpected visit from young patient in next ward

ROME – Pope John Paul II had an unexpected guest Wednesday – a small boy being treated for cancer in a ward next to the pontiff’s Rome hospital suite.

The pope’s personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, had earlier paid a visit to the children being treated at the Gemelli Polyclinic’s oncology ward, giving them a rosary. The ward is next to the pope’s room on the 10th floor.

As Dziwisz was making his rounds, the unidentified Italian child approached him.

“Since yesterday I’ve been knocking on that door,” the child told Dziwisz, pointing at the pope’s suite. “But nobody answers.”

“Perhaps you would like to greet the pope?” asked Dziwisz, who then took the boy inside to John Paul’s surprise.

“Pope, make me well,” the boy told the pontiff, according to hospital spokesman Nicola Cerbino, who told reporters about the brief encounter but did not release the child’s name.

The pope smiled at the boy and gave him a special blessing, telling him to share it with his fellow patients.

“Take the pope’s blessing to all the other children who are hospitalized, with the wish of a full recovery,” John Paul was quoted as saying.

Young people have always been dear to the pope, and on many trips he has visibly brightened in their presence. John Paul recently confirmed he would visit Germany in August for a church youth festival.

The pope, 84, has been hospitalized since Feb. 1 with breathing problems.

The Vatican will issue its next medical update today.



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