On November 19 and 20, Pope Francis will travel to Asti in northern Italy to celebrate his cousin's birthday.
Although the Pope is from Argentina, his family's roots go back to Italy's Piedmont region. The only living relatives of his same age are his sister, Maria Elena, who lives in Argentina, and two cousins in Italy.
While Pope Francis has not visited his native Argentina since becoming pope, he says he speaks frequently with his sister and is up to date with the lives of his nephews. One of them founded a non-profit to help the poor in Buenos Aires inspired by the Pope's message on World Youth Day in 2013. The other is a priest.
Pope Francis' mother, Regina Maria Sivori, was born in Buenos Aires. But, her family roots also come from northern Italy.
The Pope's father, Mario Bergoglio migrated to Argentina in the 1920's. He had worked for a railway company in Italy and his grandfather owned a food store in the town the Pope will soon visit.
I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like many other Italians, left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left with nothing. I could have very well ended up among today's 'discarded' people.
Pope Francis also has a niece, Cristina, who works as an artist in Spain. His ties to family have influenced his papacy. For example, the Pope has emphasized the need to care for the needy and for immigrants.
I consider it very important that in today's world migrants become witnesses of the human values that are essential for a dignified and fraternal life. These are values that you carry within you, that are part of your roots. Once the wound of being separated from, of being uprooted, has healed, you can uncover this wealth within you, a very precious patrimony of humanity.
In Asti, Pope Francis will spend time with the people from his father's hometown and celebrate Mass in the Cathedral.