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Rome Reports

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Nurses deliver letters from coronavirus patients to Pope Francis

It's the story of four siblings—Italian nurses who, during the most difficult moment of the pandemic, gave the pope two gifts: their work clothes and “the box of tears.”

“We collected letters from patients and healthcare workers, recounting their experiences during the pandemic. These represent their tears. The nurse's uniform represents the sweat and the love of life. Love of life has to be more contagious than the virus. We wrote to the pope, requesting an audience to deliver these items. A few months later, they responded that they would be happy to welcome us.”

“The pope expressed his nearness to nurses and other medical workers. He said he understands our suffering and is praying for us, but he said we must pray for him as well. He said he is aware that nurses are in direct communication with patients and that they must often act as mediators.”

The siblings say the pope's gesture is a symbol. It means the pontiff is close to not only nurses, but all healthcare workers who sacrifice themselves in difficult moments like this one.

“It was a very exciting meeting. Throughout the pandemic, we felt the pope's presence. We felt that God was with us. The pope's messages made us feel his nearness. We were able to meet the person we had seen on TV: a simple person, who made us feel at ease and who saw how excited we were.”

Valerio was one of the medical workers who volunteered to treat coronavirus patients.

“The first days were difficult from a professional point of view. We later realized that, from a psychological and emotional perspective, it was much more difficult to treat patients who, just a few days earlier, had been healthy. They hadn't even considered the possibility of death, and all of a sudden, we found ourselves telling them they would soon be intubated; to call their wife and kids and say goodbye. They would do so, crying, and unfortunately, many of them didn't make it. Many never woke up again.”

Although the situation in Italy has improved considerably, these nurses had to work when the number of coronavirus-related deaths in their country officially surpassed even that of China.

Javier Romero/Christian Campos

Translation: Claudia Torres