He covered his forehead with kisses, taking him gently in his arms, affectionate as a father can be; next to him there is the child’s mother, the one who has strongly wanted to baptize him. It was a special day for Lapo, when he officially entered the Christian community by passing through the Holy Door. The occasion was the opening at the hospital Bambino Gesù in Polidoro, at the gates of Rome. A special occasion for a child who is struggling with a disease which left him stuck in a wheelchair. Till a few months ago, he crawled peacefully on his parents bed, despite having had problems at birth. Then the situation worsened all of a sudden. Thus began his pilgrimage throughout Italy (Florence, Genoa, and finally Rome), from one hospital to another. Now his parents have decided to add prayer and baptism, imparted by the bishop monsignor Gino Real at the hospital.
“Lapo was born with a ‘dark spot’ on the larynx – his mother says – and physicians thought it was a tumor. Thus, only 5 days after his birth, they made him undergo a tracheotomy. Shortly afterwards, they found out it was not a tumor, but a hematoma and nobody has understood so far the dynamics of its formation. The operation, however, created problems to the little child: he could not swallow and had some difficulties being nourished. Then new interventions followed, until they found an acceptable solution. ”Despite the problem, Lapo was fine. He played, crawled, he was just like any other child, apart from receiving medications. Till the end of last summer. Then things worsened in a flash. An electrolyte imbalance caused him neurological problems”.
There is no anger in Clarissa’s words. Together with her husband Christian, she accepted this situation, trusting the doctors and the Lord. “We try to stay close to our child, we love him, we try to heal him. Given this situation, we have tried to baptize him at the hospital, because we wanted it to happen, but have never thought about the simultaneity of the Holy Door and of the bishop’s blessing.
“We have to thank the whole team which is beautiful, loving, competent, and helpful. From the chief physician to the nurses, from the physicians to the therapist. In a difficult situation, it is still a light to know that such people exist”.
To be able to celebrate the sacrament, we needed a special permission from the chief physician: Lapo is immunosuppressed and being close to the crowd which was witnessing the ceremony could represent a danger for him. But mum and dad did not want to miss this opportunity to meet the Lord “for Lapo, in the first place”, they say.
Preparation to celebrate the opening of the Holy Door, animated by the chaplain don Felice Riva, has involved many children who are hospitalized in the Pediatric Hospital of Palidoro. Helped by the educators from the ludoteca “Castle of Dreams”, by the religion teachers from School at the Hospital and by a creative mum, the little patients have created three large blessed paintings during the Holy Mass officiated by Bishop Gino Real. The paintings represent scenes of mercy: the prodigal son, the lost sheep, and the good Samaritan.
Also the thoughts written by children and parents, gathered on the bulletin board in the chapel, were dedicated to the topic of Mercy. “I am nasty, I always argue with my buddy, then we make up with God’s help” Giulio, an 8-year-old boy, writes. Ginevra, 12, dedicates her thoughts to those people who arrive in Italy, leaving their homeland: “You are from a different country, but you are my brother and I welcome you and I will help you”.
A sign of the Hospital’s vocation is the wooden logo made by a physician, which will be left hanging above the door of the chapel to recall the reception without borders for every child who suffers. A door that opens towards hope and brings peoples together. A tangible sign of the Jubilee wanted by Francis, and a slap in the face of all those people who transform the pain of others into an expression of their own hatred.