Pope Francis has said he will baptise the unborn child of a woman who refused to have an abortion, after he telephoned her when she sent him an emotional letter.
Shop worker Anna Romano, 35, was on holiday when her mobile started to ring with a mystery number on the screen and she was stunned to find herself speaking to the Pope.
Anna, from Arezzo near Florence, central Italy, had written to Francis earlier this summer to describe her turmoil at having discovered she was pregnant by a man who, unknown to her, was already married with a child and who demanded she terminate the pregnancy.
In her letter she described to the Pope her dilemma and said to him: “I have never been lucky with men, I married when I was young and then things didn’t work out and I got divorced. I then had a few brief relationships until I met a man who I thought was the man of my dreams.
“In June I discovered I was pregnant through him and when I told him instead of being happy he told me he was already married, already had a child and to have an abortion.
“I told him that I would not have an abortion and told him to get out of my life,” Anna added how she was “in a desperate and anguished state” and that she was writing to Pope Francis because she had “no one else to turn to, after being left humiliated and betrayed”.
Speaking from her home she added: “I addressed the letter simply to Pope Francis, the Vatican, and put it in the post. I didn’t even send it recorded delivery. I didn’t really expect to get a reply but then out of the blue when I was on holiday I had a phone call from him.
“The number was from Rome, with a 06 dial code, and as soon as he started speaking I recognised the voice as his. I was just so surprised that he had telephoned me. He said that he had read my letter and he wanted to speak to me personally about it and reassure me that someone was worried about me. We were only on the phone for a few minutes but my heart was filled with joy, as we spoke I was rubbing my tummy at the same time.
“I had only seen the Pope once before, from St Peter’s Square when I lived in Rome, I would never have imagined that the Pope would pick up a telephone and call me and speak to me as if I was a dear friend. He reassured me and said a child was a gift from God, a sign of Divine Providence and that I would never be left alone. He said that as Christians we should never be afraid.”
“He told me I had been very brave and strong for my unborn child. I told him that I wanted to baptise the baby when it was born but I was afraid as I was divorced and a single mother but he said he would be my spiritual father and he would baptise my baby. I’m not sure if he will, I feel as if I am dreaming but if he did baptise my baby it would be something else, that telephone call has changed my life.
“I hope my letter will be an example for other women who feel they may be distant from the Church simply because they have chosen the wrong man, they are divorced or they are with men who are not worthy of being fathers. I don’t know the sex of the baby but if the Pope does baptise it and it’s a boy I have no doubt of his name – Francis.”
A Vatican spokesman said he “knew nothing” about the call. “The Pope doesn’t tell us when he makes these calls,” he said. “He just does them and then we find out about them later.”