From our special correspondent
“The Argentinian sun. ” Seeing him enter the great Paul-VI hall, Freddy found ” his “ Pope. Three years after meeting him for the first time in the Vatican, this former homeless man saw Francis again on Saturday, August 28. The pope received for an hour, at the Vatican, the members of the Lazare association, which has been organizing joint tenancies between former homeless people and young workers for ten years. Freddy did not miss a beat. When she tells about her morning, staring at you with her big light blue eyes, the words flow together with ease and a touch of emotion. “ For us, the poor, the Pope is someone accessible. After each testimony this morning, he got up to shake our hands. I would never have thought of shaking hands with a pope… ”
Housed by Lazare since October 2015, Freddy, 53, has “Spent three months on the street”, as she says, after a romantic relationship that got her there. “It’s a lot and it’s not a lot, she sums up. Because the street is for no one but everyone can fall in it. “ It is from this journey that she spoke on the microphone earlier, attentively listened to by the Pope as the Spanish translation progresses. “This Pope is simplicity incarnate. I’m sure that even if you come barefoot and in your underwear, he will accept you ”, she smiles, after observing “That he seems to prefer the poor to protocol …”. “Deep down, he loves us because we don’t make fuss”, summarizes this Nantes.
A few minutes earlier, Pope Francis had encouraged the 200 members of Lazarus, who came from all over France but also from Brussels, Madrid, Mexico City and Geneva, to ” to open the door ” of their hearts. “Sometimes in life he told them, you have to have the humility to knock on the door. Sometimes you have to have the courage not to be afraid of the one who will open the door for me, that is to say God. “ Before continuing: “The door is God who opens to us, the door is our heart … it is open, it is guarded …”
At the end of his speech, as he always does, Francis asked those listening to him to pray for him. “He asked that we pray that he would have courage. It means he needs us, Freddy is still surprised. We will help him by praying, we will help him. “
“It means that he includes us in his mission”, adds Joseph, a few meters from Freddy. The 25-year-old student nursing has just spent two years in a shared apartment. “He needs our prayers too, actually. Sure, he’s the head, but the fact that he’s asking us that tells me that I can be of help. “
Sitting next to Joseph, Barbara, 50, also from Nantes, was also struck by the ” simplicity “ of the Bishop of Rome. “He lowered his seat down the stairs, to be closer to us. He looked at everyone, he took the time. It felt like we were with someone from the family. “ Like Freddy, Barbara, in Lazarus since 2014, had already had the opportunity to approach the Pope. It was in 2016. “I was to bring the cup during the procession. I remember putting everything I was, all my troubles in this cup. And all of humanity with it. Well, especially me. “ A moment of “Liberation”, she insists, when she had been off the streets for two years. Since then, this artist (“I paint, but do not live from my canvases”) continued to rebuild.
Among those who made the trip to Rome, some also mention the Pope as “A figure of peace”. This is the case of Christian, 60, one of Lazare’s first roommates. He finds François for the … seventh time. Since a first meeting in 2014, Christian has been following all of François’ activity. “He does good, and he also cleans up around him in the Vatican, to try to achieve this peace from the Lord”he said, cap screwed on his head, a half-smoked cigarillo between his fingers. And for him, personally, who is François? “The Pope was a buoy for me, to fight against the forces of evil. “