At the Wednesday General Audience

From tears to hope

 From tears  to hope  ING-009
01 March 2024

A year has passed since that accursed night in Cutro, when a boat from Türkiye with some 200 migrants on board crashed into a sandbank a few metres from the coast of Calabria, Italy. There were over 90 victims, of whom 35 were minors. “May the Lord give us the strength to understand and to weep”, the Holy Father said at the Angelus on 5 March 2023. And from those tears an idea came to Giuliano Crepaldi, President of the San Vincenzo de’ Paoli Association: to use the wood from that barge, a symbol of death, to create a prayer kneeler, a call to hope.

The kneeler was donated to Pope Francis at the General Audience on Wednesday, 28 February. “Saddened by this tragedy, I thought of how to offer a sign of solidarity and closeness”, said Crepaldi, whose organization is committed to “the welcoming and the integration of those people who, fleeing war, persecution and hunger, have been forced to leave their country of origin”. Like Alireza, an Iranian refugee and guest of the Association that created the kneeler following the design of engineer Guglielmo Zamparelli, a collaborator of the charitable organization. “Giving shape to the kneeler”, Alireza said, “was for me a testimony of love, a way to remember those who lost their lives...”. All three, accompanied by the editor-in-chief of L’Osservatore Romano, Mr Andrea Monda, donated this first kneeler from Cutro to the Pontiff with a promise — which Pope Francis fully accepted — to donate to all Italian dioceses other kneelers made from the wood of the boats used by migrants.

This proves that a sign of prayer and a light of hope can arise from a tragedy. Provided that man has the courage to get down on his knees.