The photo of a baby dressed up as the pope at the Fatima Shrine rocked social media during Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to Portugal for the centenary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary.
But what many do not know is the moving story behind this tender picture.
Diego Guerreiro is from the Portuguese city of Pinhal Novo, located some 25 miles from the capital, Lisbon. He was born prematurely at 33 weeks, weighed three pounds eleven ounces and measured 16 inches.
Speaking to Tvi24, his mother Carla said that after the birth she could not see her baby. “They had to immediately resuscitate him and take him away to the intensive care unit,” she said.
The little one “had trouble breathing. None of the doctors could explain why he was struggling to breathe so much,” said Carla, who has another seven-year-old son.
She said that Diego was in the Santa Maria Hospital for 76 days, where he experienced both many improvements and setbacks in his health. The baby spent half that time in neonatal intensive care with respiratory assistance.
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The evening of the day he was to be discharged, Diego again had a severe reversal and was returned to intensive care. At that time, Carla asked Pope Francis to intercede for her son and promised that when the pontiff went to Fatima on May 12-13, she would bring the baby to the shrine.
On Thursday May 11, they arrived at Fatima and spent the night in their car in order to go to the Shrine at 8:00 a.m. the following day. They got a place near the security barrier installed along the route where the popemobile would pass.
For this occasion, the mother and the grandmother had the idea of dressing him up like Pope Francis. They both searched the Internet for a pattern that “would be easy to make” and the grandmother sewed the outfit.
To complete the ensamble, Carla put around his neck a rosary that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gave to the baby’s father when he was at the Fatima Shrine as part of the security detail of the pontiff.
Diego is still having problems, with his mother saying “actually he can faint at any moment.” Meanwhile, she remains steadfast and alert to help her son when needed.