Pope Francis isn’t the only one who gets to ride in the Popemobile. At the end of his general audience on Wednesday, the pontiff let a 17-year-old boy with Down Syndrome sit in his open-top Mercedes, letting him spin around in front of the giant crowd, the Associated Press reports.
In St. Peter’s Square, Alberto di Tullio met the pontiff, who invited him onto his ride and allowed him to sit in the chair and spin around in front of the crowd of 80,000.
"The pope saw him, embraced him. Then Alberto pointed to the car, and so he brought him up!" Celestino di Tullio, the boy’s father, told AP.
Di Tullio, who is from the town of Boiano, near Naples, said his parish priest gave him the blue-and-white-striped Argentine national soccer jersey he was wearing when he met the pope.
During his speech, Pope Francis emphasized unity among different Christian denominations. “How much damage is created by divisions among Catholics and between Christian communities. Evangelical Christians, Orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians -- why are we divided? We must try to bring unity,” he said, the Catholic Herald reports.
This isn’t the first time the pope has gone out of his way to make someone feel special. In March, the pope left the Popemobile to bless a disabled man in front of thousands, right before his Inaugural Mass, according to Rome Reports. On Easter Sunday, the pope hugged and kissed a disabled 8-year-old boy from Rhode Island, Fox News reports.
“Wow! I was speechless, and I was moved to tears, along with Lucas,” Paul Gondreau, the boy’s father, said in a statement.