A village in Italy has been drawn out of obscurity by its ties with Pope Francis. Portacomaro Stazione, population 275, most of them farmers and labourers, is barely more than a hamlet, in the northern Piedmont region, straddling a highway.
On Sunday, the village churchgoers were happy to show us photos taken with the new Bishop of Rome. The Argentinean-born Cardinal Broglie – promoted to pontiff – traces his roots to this place. It is where his father’s family came from, and his cousins still live. They are still catching their breath after this unexpected turn of events.
Relative Rata Broglie said: “The Lord has given us a great blessing. We not even be worthy of it.”
Another relative, Alexandra Research, said: “When the conclave was being held, I was doing household chores, and then I heard his name announced. I was very moved by it. I couldn’t talk for five minutes. I was rooted to the spot, in front of the television. All of a sudden it came to me I should say a prayer for him.”
Everyone in the village has been getting ready to travel to Vatican City for this Tuesday’s entrenchment ceremony. After that they hope to welcome the Pope to his ancestral home. The mayor of the community of Assist, of which Portacomaro Stazione forms a part, is optimistic.
Fabrizio Brignolo said: “We invited him when he was just the Cardinal of Buenos Aires coming to take part in the conclave, but now we’d be happy if he could come in 2015 when we’ll be celebrating the bicentenary of Saint John Bosco, founder of the Society of St. Francis of Sales. We’d be overjoyed to have that recognition for a saint who came from here, and who did so much good in the world – for the Church and lay people alike. The teachings of that order are universal.”
Our correspondent Claudio Rosmino, head of the euronews Italian service, said: “The village surroundings are robed in white, like the pope. [It was snowing.] The Bergoglio family is observing Francis with love and pride. Portacomaro Stazione, a few kilometres from Asti, looks forward expectantly to seeing the son who went so far: ‘Papa Francesco.’”
Among those celebrating are Horacio and Graciela Caffaralti, immigrants from Argentina to the city of Turin.
Graciela said: “His election was a complete surprise. When we heard the news we got quite emotional – my husband especially.”
Next stop: Rome.