Pope Francis is known to many as the father of the Roman Catholic Church, and during a recent papal visit in Italy, he put his fatherly ways on display while interacting with one particularly emotional young boy. The pope was presiding over a question-and-answer session at the St. Paul of the Cross parish near Rome when a young boy named Emanuele approached the microphone and broke down in tears while attempting to ask Francis a question about his late father. Emanuele was then invited to chat one-on-one with the pope on stage, and what happened next was truly a beautiful thing to witness.
A distraught Emanuele approached Francis, hands covering his teary eyes, and nearly fell into the pontiff's open embrace before the pope proceeded to console him. That's when the little boy posed the question that had him so choked up: was his deceased father — who had his four children baptized — in heaven even though he was an atheist while living? While answering Emanuele's existential inquiry, Francis continued to lovingly soothing the boy, holding him in his arms as he cried.
Once Emanuele returned to his seat, Pope Francis addressed the crowd about their conversation, explaining how he answered the child's question.
"What a beautiful witness of a son who inherited the strength of his father, who had the courage to cry in front of all of us. If that man was able to make his children like that, then it's true, he was a good man," he told the gathered churchgoers in Italian, according to a translation by the National Catholic Reporter. He continued by noting that although Emanuele's father wasn't "a believer," he had a "good heart" because he had his children baptized and that God doesn't "abandon his children when they are good."
Witnessing Emanuele and Francis's silent yet sweet onstage interaction is enough to bring you to tears. Watch it unfold in the video above.