The group of young adults with various intellectual and physical impairments, supported by family members and staff from Cheeverstown, a special needs school in Dublin, flew into Rome on February 7, on a trip organized by Wooden Spoon, to see the recent rugby international match between Italy and Ireland.
Samus Farrelly, Chairman of Wooden Spoon Eastern Counties Region, based in Norwich, helped to raise funds for the trip as he has links with Dublin. Trip organisers asked him if, while in Rome, it would be possible to visit the Holy City and maybe see His Holiness.
Samus said: "I approached Bishop Alan regarding this and he kindly wrote to the Papal Nuncio in London. Because of this the youngsters, their helpers and parents were blessed to be at the front of the Papal audience on the Wednesday.
"After the proceedings, Pope Francis came to meet them personally and give them each a blessing and some very kind words. All of the group received a set of Rosary beads from His Holiness to mark the occasion and these will be forever cherished. Parents commented this was truly a pinnacle in their youngster's lives."
Pictured above is Pope Francis blessing one of the Dublin children.