Oct 5, 2013 / 05:57 am
The last living person whom the Bishop of Assisi saved from being killed during the Holocaust met with Pope Francis yesterday, thanking him for the Church’s role in protecting her people.
“Thank you for what the Church did for us,” Graziella Viterbi, 88, told Pope Francis Oct. 4 at the archbishop’s residence in Assisi, where her family fled as refugees in 1943.
“I thank you,” Pope Francis replied. “Pray for me.”
Before this exchange, the two had greeted each other, both saying “shalom.”
The two met in the “hall of divestment,” the room in the bishop’s residence where St. Francis stripped off his clothes and embraced a life of poverty dedicated to Christ.
Pope Francis is the first Pope in 800 years to have visited the room, where many Jews stayed during World War II.
Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, of the Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, said in his address at the meeting that in that very hall, his predecessor, Bishop Giuseppe Nicolini, had welcomed many Jews during the time of Nazi occupation.
Around 200 Jewish refugees moved to Assisi during World War II, where there had never before been a Jewish community. Viterbi’s father, Emilio, moved his family there in 1943. ..
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