Pope Francis videocalls the 95-year-old grandmother of Vatican official
By Francesca Merlo
Pope Francis had been concerned about Mrs Sosamma Antony's well-being, especially after her battle with Covid-19 the previous year. She is the 95-year-old grandmother of Monsignor George Jacob Koovakad, who has been involved in organising papal journeys since 2021. On 2 September, the Pope decided to reach out to her personally via a video call. The call was conducted in both English and Malayalam, the predominant language in Kerala, India. During their brief conversation, the Pope and Mrs Sosamma exchanged jokes, greetings, and blessings.
A recording of this heartfelt exchange recently surfaced on various local websites, including the Times of India. In the video, Father Thomas Kallukalam, the prior of a Syro-Malabar Church community, answered the call on behalf of Mrs. Sosamma. The Pope affectionately referred to her as "Mama" and requested to speak with her. Monsignor Koovakad served as the translator between the Pope and his grandmother during this virtual encounter. He had initially shared Mrs Sosamma's health concerns with the Pope during their July 2022 trip to Canada, explaining that he planned to visit her in India after the journey. Given her age and recent battle with Covid-19, her health was a matter of grave concern.
Pope Francis, known for his deep empathy for the elderly and respect for grandparents, continued to inquire about Mrs Sosamma's well-being through Monsignor Koovakad. Finally, during his trip to Mongolia, he expressed his desire to speak with her directly. On 2 September, while the Pope was in Ulaanbaatar, a video call was made to Father Kallukalam's computer in the Changanassery Kottayam district of Kerala. Mrs Sosamma's family had gathered at her home, and when they answered the call, they were greeted by the Pope's face. He waved and said, "Greetings... Thank you!" He inquired about her health and praised her grandson's upbringing.
With a gentle smile and a whispered assurance of prayers through her son, Mrs Sosamma reciprocated the warm sentiments. The Pope emphasized the importance of her prayers, acknowledging the profound value of her faith.