It's no secret that the Pope has a special affection for the sick and elderly. Often, he asks their caretakers to treat them with lots of care and respect.
For these pilgrims from southern Italy, Pope Francis is another member of their group. Each year, they try to take as many sick people as possible to visit the Sanctuary of Lourdes.
"Unitalsi is an association for sick people. We take all of our members to visit Lourdes. There's miracles of resurrection, of the body and the spirit, to face the pain. So in a way, Pope Francis is one of us.”
"They take many of these people suffering from ailments who truly need a bit of affection. They're like children, in need of their mother.”
These pilgrims, on the other hand, take on another form of pastoral care. They work at a retirement home. They say that when the elderly see Pope Francis on television, there is nothing that can distract them.
"All of these grandparents are in love with the Pope. When we put on the Pope's blessing on Sunday, everyone is paying attention. They all love Pope Francis.”
They even laugh when they recall the reaction from Lucia, one of their residents, when she learned that they would come to the General Audience with the Pope.
"We had told all our residents that we would come to the audience with the Pope. They were all enthusiastic and they all prayed together. And one of them told us, 'What I would give to be able to go.' She was teaching us how to make gnocchis and she said: do me a favor, make some more and take them to the Pope!”
These groups have come to Rome in honor of all those that are unable to. They know that when they return home, they'll have the full attention of those waiting to hear the Pope's message.