Pope Francis welcomes giant puppet to Vatican
By CNA Staff
Vatican City, Sep 10, 2021 / 12:00 pm
Pope Francis welcomed a giant puppet symbolizing unaccompanied refugee children to the Vatican on Friday.
The 11-foot-tall puppet, called Little Amal, arrived in St. Peter’s Square on the morning of Sept. 10 on a journey from Gaziantep, near the border between Turkey and Syria, to Manchester, England.
The puppet, blinking and waving its arms, was greeted by the Vatican Cardinal Michael Czerny beside the bronze sculpture “Angels Unawares,” which depicts migrants huddled together on a raft and was unveiled in the square in 2019.
Czerny, under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, was joined by Bishop Benoni Ambăruş, a Romania-born auxiliary bishop of Rome diocese responsible for the pastoral care of migrants.
“Amal is big and beautiful, and meeting her is a pleasure,” Czerny told Vatican News. “But she immediately reminds us that meeting vulnerable migrants, insecure workers, and asylum seekers in our midst requires more than just a glance.”
“Each of them, with their own baggage of suffering and dreams, needs and talents, is waiting for us to open our ears, our minds, and our hearts, as well as our eyes, and stretch out our hands.”
The puppet, whose journey is known as “The Walk,” proceeded to the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, where it encountered the pope and brightly dressed children.
The children are participants in an event known as the “March of Welcome,” marking the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which falls this year on Sept. 26.
In May, Pope Francis released his 2021 message marking the annual commemoration, which Pope Pius X instituted in 1914.
Photographs issued by the Vatican showed the pope waving to the children, greeting them individually, and giving them his blessing.
“The pope invited them to play and he spent some time in the courtyard watching them and asking them to pray for him too,” reported Vatican News, which said that the event also included a kite-building workshop.
The welfare of migrants and refugees has been one of Pope Francis’ top priorities since his election in 2013. His first trip outside Rome as pope, in July of that year, was to Italy’s migrant island of Lampedusa.