Pope Francis meets with Edith Bruck at his residence "Casa Santa Marta" Pope Francis meets with Edith Bruck at his residence "Casa Santa Marta" 

Pope writes preface for Edith Bruck’s book “I am Francesco”

Pope Francis writes the preface for author Edith Bruck’s just-released book “Sono Francesco” – “I am Francesco,” a reflection of the Pope’s exceptional visit to the writer’s house in February 2021.

By Sophie Peeters

In her new book “Sono Francesco” Hungarian writer and Holocaust survivor Edith Bruck reminisces on the incredible visit of Pope Francis to her home last year.

The meeting took place on 20 February after the Pope was emotionally struck while reading her story of surviving deportation to several Nazi concentration camps.

A living memory

In his preface, Pope Francis recounted how he met Ms. Bruck after being “struck by the calm and luminous strength” she emulated in her interview published in the Vatican newspaper “L’Osservatore Romano.” 

The Pope continued by recounting their first meeting at her home in the centre of Rome, saying it was an “emotional visit for the both of us.”

“As soon as I got out of the elevator, the lady greeted me on the doorway in silence, because emotion almost prevented her from speaking: amidst the tears that took over she thanked me for the visit and I in turn thanked her for the testimony she gave, that she had given all these years, or better, the testimony that she was and is.”

Ms. Bruck is, the Pope noted, a “living memory,” whose witness of hope and faith can inspire us to gaze on what is good and beautiful amidst the “darkest abysses in the history of mankind.”

Second encounter

Meeting once again on International Holocaust Remembrance Day 27 January, this time at the Pope’s residence at Casa Santa Marta, the Pope expressed how timely the meeting was as the “winds of war had begun to blow again, even in Europe.”

Her “faithful” helper Olga, a Ukrainian woman, also came on the visit, and the Pope said they discussed what was unfolding in a now-“battered land.”

Memory, the Pope expressed, should never be forgotten, and people like Ms. Bruck, who “keep memory alive”, are indispensable to remembering those moments in history when humanity seem lost.

Breaking bread together

The Pope continued in his preface by recounting how Ms. Bruck and Olga had brought a bread baked by them to share together: breaking bread together is symbolic as, like hope, it can always be “resurrected” and redeemed.

Breaking bread together is a simple gesture, the Pope reflected, “like a prayer”.

Sharing in this bread is a way to “start again,” in our common humanity, a simple act of feeding ourselves that brings us together, the Pope continued.

Fragility of Humanity

Humanity, the Pope concluded, is “something delicate, fragile, always ready to break.”

However, with living testimonies such as Ms. Bruck, it is possible to witness extraordinary people who contain a strength “that springs from no one knows where” and “overcomes all adversity.” This still exists today, the Pope expressed.

Sono Francesco” beautifully recounts the meeting that gave the Pope “so much strength, hope, and sense of gratitude” which, the Pope concluded in his preface, can be shared with those who read it; “at least that is my hope.”

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21 October 2022, 11:35