Pope Francis is not only the first pope who’s a Jesuit from South America – on Saturday he became the first to bless a dog.
Alessandro Forlani, who is blind and works for Italy’s RAI Radio, went to the Vatican with Asià, his Labrador Retriever seeing-eye dog, to attend the pope’s meeting with the journalists from around the world who had spent the previous week reporting on the conclave.
“The security tells me right away that the dog probably will not be able to enter,” Forlani wrote in Italian on his Facebook page. But Vatican employees let both him and Asià inside the hall, and asked them to sit next to the front row.
As the Pope blessed about 50 members of the media that had been selected by the organizers of the event, a man approached Forlani and said, “Would you like to greet the Holy Father? Follow me.”
Forlani wrote that Pope Francis greeted him warmly. “His hand was warm, strong … I did the ritual of kissing the Pope, and asked if he could give me a special blessing for my wife and my daughter, who was baptized a few days [before] by his fellow Jesuit. He added, ‘And a special blessing for your dog.’ Then he bent down and stroked Asià.”
According to Discovery News, Asià sniffed the pope’s dress and shoes as she was making history.
When he was asked to make a statement about Pope Francis to the media, Forlani wrote, “All I said was that the impression I got is the same one he communicates from the pulpit: strong intelligence, strong empathy, a great mind and a big heart.”