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Boy who inspired the pope in Brazil is entering religious life

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Ricardo Sanches - published on 01/20/22

His encounter with Pope Francis changed his life.

The image above moved the world. Behind it, there’s a story of courage, faith and vocation.

The year was 2013, and Pope Francis was making his first apostolic trip. He went to Brazil to participate in World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.

Wherever he went, Francis, drew huge crowds of faithful. It was on one of his trips, when he was going to the headquarters of the archdiocese of Rio, that a little Brazilian boy approached the popemobile.

The boy was Nathan de Brito, and he was 9 years old at the time. Wearing a soccer jersey with the colors of the Brazilian flag, the boy broke through security, gave the Pontiff a hug and, in a moment of strong emotion, revealed his great dream to him.

“I told him that I want to become a priest, a minister of Christ, and the pope said that he will pray for me, and even asked me to pray for him. When I finished talking to him, my legs were shaking. I cried a lot, I mean, not only me, the security guard on the side too. But who wouldn’t cry?” Nathan said at the time.

Yes, even the pope was visibly moved, as you can see in the video below. (The video is in Portuguese but, language barriers aside, there’s no mistaking the emotion the boy feels as he recounts his experience, and the connection between him and the pope when they are face to face.)

Initiation into religious life

Nathan would later reveal that this encounter changed his life significantly.

“My prayer life increased a lot, the certainty of my vocation was more and more solid and, above all, my admiration for the pope, which was already great, became even greater,” he told the website of the Shalom Community last year.

The boy has grown, his vocation has matured, and his dream is beginning to come true. Nathan is now a postulant in the Order of Friars Minor, as Bishop Joaquim Wladimir Lopes Dias, bishop of Lorena (in the state of São Paulo, Brazil) shared on his Facebook page.

Postulancy is the one-year period of preparation that a candidate to the Franciscan religious life does before entering the novitiate. Postulants carry out a variety of daily activities that help them grow in charity, fraternity, care for those who suffer and for the common home, etc. 

The boy who moved the heart of the pope and the world is now a young man who inspires us by his example of faith, work, and perseverance!

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