Dignitaries around the world eagerly await an audience with the new Pope during his first days in the Vatican, but a sweet Italian dog has apparently already enjoyed a hands-on blessing by the new Pontiff.
Scores of media representatives from around the world lined up March 16 by the Vatican’s audience hall to meet the newly elected 266th Pope, leader of the global Catholic Church. Alessandro Forlani, a vision-impaired journalist with Italian RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana), held the leash of Asia, his yellow Labrador Retriever guide dog.
“The security guards told me that most likely I wouldn’t be allowed to get in with the dog,” Forlani posted on his Facebook page.
Soon, however, the Swiss Guards on duty seem to have led Forlani and his canine companion into the audience hall area, where the Pope was receiving the queued reporters. Then, Vatican officials reportedly hand-picked Forlani and guided him to meet the Pontiff, indicating he had noticed him with his dog and requested a meeting.
The Pope greeted the pup with a pat and a prayer.
Encountering Pope Francis, the friendly dog sniffed his garments and shoes, as Forlani asked for a blessing. Quite naturally, as the story goes, the Pope reached out to pet the dog and uttered a special blessing for the animal.
Pope Francis seems aptly named.
Upon election in mid-March by the official Conclave, Argentinean Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose to be called Francis. The official moniker honors St. Francis of Assisi, a 12th Century Franciscan friar known as the Catholic patron saint of animals.
Please subscribe to receive free e-mail updates whenever this columnist publishes a new article. Subscriptions are anonymous. Feel free to follow on Google Plus and Twitter. You are also invited to join this writer's fan page.