Philippe Naudin’s meeting with Pope Francis “changed his life”.
For Zenit readers, Anne Facérias put together his testimony delivered at the end of Wednesday’s general audience on February 19, 2020, taking place in the Paul VI room of the Vatican where he participated as part of the 2020 Symposium of the Diaconia of Beauty.
Philippe Naudin, ten days after his birth, suffered from meningitis which left him paralyzed. At the age of seven, during a pilgrimage to Lourdes, he began to walk, then TO speak and finally be able to attend school.
In this testimony, he recounts his meeting with Pope Francis.
Anne Facérias – You, who kissed the Pope’s forehead, who are you?
Ph. N. – I am Philippe Naudin, I have had a social handicap since I was a child.
Although in general nobody wants me and mostly everyone rejects me, I am lucky to have many personal friends!
I started from the bottom and now find myself next to the Pope! God is telling me that He loves me very much. My photo with the Pope has traveled around the world to give hope to those who, like me, are not favored by life.
What were you doing in Rome?
I am part of the « Diaconia of Beauty, a movement for artists, centered around art and faith.
We share our love for the Lord together and I have been involved in it since its beginnings with Michael Lonsdale.
On February 11, 2020, Our Lady of Lourdes’ feast day and World Day of the Sick, I received a call from Anne Facerias, president of the Diaconia of Beauty. She invited me to come to the Symposium in Rome that she organizes every year around February 18 for the feast of Blessed Fra Angelico and Saint Bernadette. I agreed and came.
On February 19, 2020, all the participants in the Symposium went to the papal audience. With Anne Facerias, Michael Lonsdale and Yann Konopka (pianist with a disability), we were placed in the front row.
We had prepared our hearts to greet the Pope with a simple prayer:
“Lord, make us instruments of your peace, may your will be done, lead us in the grace of the Holy Spirit to transmit Beauty to the world “.
Michael and Anne gave the Holy Father the book on the foundations of the Diaconia of Beauty: “On the path of Beauty and Love”(http://www.librairietequi.com/A-66501-sur-la-voie-de-la-beaute-et-de-l-amour.aspx), a book of interviews between Cardinal Paul Poupard and Michael Lonsdale.
Then it was my turn. I got up from my chair and kissed the Pope on the forehead as if I were kissing Jesus. That kiss changed my life.
The Pope asked me to pray for him and I replied, “yes no problem my brother. Between you and me, there is no difference because we both have the same heart to pray to our God.” With Anne and Michael who were next to me, we invited the Pope to come to Lourdes in our artists’ house of the Diaconia of Beauty. He smiled because he loves Lourdes and I think he would like to come!
Was it the first time you met Pope Francis?
No, I have already been to Rome for another Symposium also organized by the Diaconia of Beauty.
We had a private audience on Saturday, February 24, 2018, with Mgr Le Gall, Don Pietro d ‘Angelo, Michaël Lonsdale, Big Flo and Oli, Filippo Velardi… and various artists: musicians, poets, singers, painters, architects, sculptors, actors, dancers… Whatever our disciplines are, we seek to share our passions and our quest for truth.
Anne Facerias presented the 50 participants and the different groups of the Diaconia to the Holy Father: Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Albi, Nantes, Rome, Venice, Mauritius… It was a blessed moment when everyone felt an intermediary between heaven and earth.
When my turn came, I was very moved, the Pope kissed me and he asked me three times: “bless me, my son”. So I blessed him and he gave me a rosary and a picture that I still have.
What do you do for a living?
I am an actor but for me, it’s very difficult to make a living so I’m what you may call “begging” in Lourdes.
With Daniel Facérias and the friends of Lourdes (Cité Saint Pierre, Cénacolo, Sanctuary, town hall, parish) we are going to organize sessions and artistic residencies in our artists’ house for disabled or other people in precarious situations. We are currently rearranging the ground floor into a working room with a small experimental theater.
And now, how are you going to continue on your path?
I have received many blessings all this week in Rome and I would like to testify to others all that we have experienced. It is very important to evangelize through art and beauty.
I would like to prepare my future show which tells the life of two polar bears, “Bouba” and “Boumboum”, who will meet the Pope. The two bears tell my life story. You can go to my website: http://philippe-alias-bouba.com/. In this Lenten period, let us enter a path of prayer which will lead us to the Resurrection, to the true beauty!
Interview by Anne Facérias