ROME — Pope Francis has reached out to the people of Brazil, promising his prayers during the trying time of the coronavirus pandemic.
The pope telephoned the archbishop of Aparecida, Orlando Brandes, yesterday to convey his closeness, support, and prayers to the people of Brazil, Vatican News reported.
“Tell the Brazilian people that I not only pray for all of you, but I always accompany you with my heart,” the pontiff reportedly said.
Brazil currently has 772,416 confirmed coronavirus cases, the second highest overall number after the United States, and 39,680 deaths with coronavirus, third highest after the U.S. and Great Britain. Given its position in the southern hemisphere, Brazil finds itself in a particularly difficult situation as it moves into winter and flu season.
In Wednesday’s phone call with Archbishop Brandes, Francis recalled his visit to Aparecida in 2007 for the fifth general conference of the Latin American episcopate and again in 2013 during the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.
The pope reportedly has a special devotion to our Lady of Aparecida, a title for the blessed Virgin Mary and the patroness of Brazil. In September, 2016, Francis had an image of Our Lady of Aparecida installed in the Vatican Gardens.
During the call, Francis also urged Brazilians to seize hold of their “courage and faith” during this tough time.
Wednesday’s conversation was the third such phone call to Brazilian prelates since the initial outbreak of the coronavirus, Vatican News said. Francis called the archbishop of Manaus, Leonardo Steiner on April 25 and the archbishop of São Paulo, Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, on May 9 to express his solidarity with the people of Brazil.
“With these three calls,” Archbishop Brandes said, “our Pope made his heart beat very close to ours,” accompanying us as “a father.”