The Italian Paralympic Committee along with thousands of athletes from around the world met Pope Francis over the weekend.
The president of the committee said the athletes represent the "strength of those who fall but get up and succeed in finding within themselves the will to go on with their lives through sports”.
Pope Francis also told the athletes they are a "symbol of hope” for people around the world.
"Your example, dear athletes, is a great sign of hope. It is proof of the fact that every person has a potential that at times we cannot imagine, and it can be developed with confidence and solidarity”
Pope Francis highlighted the potential of sports to unite people around the globe. He also reminded the athletes that they are not alone in their struggle for equality.
"In your efforts for sports without barriers, for a world without exclusion, you are never alone! God, our Father is with you!”
The athletes greeted the Pope after the encounter and gave him several gifts, including this portrait with his image.