The official World Youth Day Lisbon 2023 Instagram page shared photos of young Portuguese altar servers who stole the heart of Pope Francis. The images moved users and went viral.
"It is impossible to remain indifferent to these photographs," World Youth Day's Spanish account stated.
One of the photos depicts 18-year-old Jerome from Estoril, Brazil, and 14-year-old Francis from Caxias, Brazil. WYD said that "both have been [altar servers] for some years."
Here's the post below:
"This time, they hosted the Sending Mass of WYD Lisbon 2023, presided over by Pope Francis!" the post reads. "In the photo, Francis is embraced by the Pope."
The second photo depicts Down syndrome boys Gustavo and Jerome, who participated in the Catholic youth gathering and attended the final World Youth Day Mass.
Associate General Secretary Father Paul Hartmann of the USCCB also published photos of Jerome and Francis after meeting them at World Youth Day.
He said the boys became "fast friends" and considered this encounter "the best part of the pilgrimage."
Here's his post below:
The full text reads, "Met Francis and Jerome this morning. Both are Portuguese boys who have Down Syndrome. Today they will be servers for a Papal Mass. They only met here and have become fast friends. Their parents allowed me to post their picture for you. Maybe the best part of the pilgrimage."
Viral Photos Move Social Media Users
The messages of love and tenderness for these children were immediate, with users quickly filling the post with words of affection.
“Blessed be God.... in the Church, there is a place for everyone (Pope Francis). It is in those that the world considers inferior where we can really discover the true face of Jesus," one user stated.
“They are so affectionate and tender," another user highlighted. "May God and the Virgin bless you always."
“I met the boy on the right, Francisco (Quico), and his mother when they visited the participant registration helpdesk on one of our busiest days and we had some time to chat. His and hers! They were very proud of their mission and very happy. They were both lovely, polite, and happy people. May God bless and protect you," another user added.