22 August 2023, The Tablet

Pope consoles grieving mother of WYD pilgrim

Pope consoles grieving mother of WYD pilgrim

World Youth Day cross at Montebelo Chapel in Porto.
Sipa US / Alamy

The Pope broke down in tears while consoling the grieving mother of a 24-year-old World Youth Day pilgrim who died on August 11.

Pope Francis telephoned the mother of Luca Re Sartù, before his funeral on August 17, after his death following World Youth Day in Lisbon.

The autopsy is pending, but it is thought that Re Sartù had a bacterial staph infection which developed into septicaemia, leading to organ failure.

Luca’s mother told a bishop the Pope had telephoned her about her loss and been “exquisitely kind.” Bishop Luca Raimondi said the pilgrim’s mother had asked him to thank the Pope for the call, saying, “He grieved with me, he cried with me, and above all, he was like a father. He consoled me as if he were my dad.’”

“This mother was very, very touched,” added the bishop, who is an auxiliary bishop of Milan. Raimondi, who conducted the pilgrim’s funeral, said: “The pope shared the tears of this woman. This has struck me. It is very beautiful.”

During the funeral Mass, concelebrated by 13 priests, Re Sartù’s friends sang the World Youth Day hymn. During the homily, Bishop Raimondi addressed the congregation saying: “Why was this boy so beloved? What was the source of his joy? Faith isn’t a joke. It changes a person’s life. Luca was truly a missionary. Even with his death, he has given witness to his faith.”

After World Youth Day, Re Sartù had gone with friends from his home region of Varese in Lombardy to a Portuguese campsite near the Atlantic Ocean. While there, he had developed a high fever and extreme weariness. Portuguese doctors had attributed his symptoms to tiredness and a change in temperature. After returning to Italy, Re Sartù suffered a heart attack and died in Monza Hospital.

A day of mourning was held for the sport-loving Re Sartù on August 18 in Marnate, the municipality where he lived, approximately 18 miles north-west of Milan.

At Re Sartù’s funeral, Bishop Raimondi said that during the Jubilee Year 2025 when diocesan youth groups go to Rome, “Luca will be, so to speak, our patron. He will accompany us from heaven.”

Bishop Américo Aguiar, the director of World Youth Day in Lisbon has offered his condolences to the family. The auxiliary bishop of Lisbon assured Re Sartù’s relatives that Portugal was mourning with them.


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