The day before Reuters photographer Yara Nardi was due to travel with Pope Francis, the photojournalist came across a recent image she had taken of a migrant child and felt she had to show it to His Holiness.
When Nardi produced the print — a close-up of 18-month-old Prince’s eyes who is being accompanied by his mother from Cameroon — it stirred something within Pope Francis as silence fell upon the aircraft.
“I saw that picture I had taken in Lampedusa and suddenly felt I had to show it to the Pope,” Nardi says.
“He was immediately moved, as soon as I took it out of the envelope.” Reuters reports that Francis said: “They keep them in Libyan detention camps, then they throw them to sea”.
Nardi had taken the photo just the previous week on the Italian island of Lampedusa where she had met Prince and his mother Claudine Nsoe. Lampedusa has become known as a hotspot for migrant detention with thousands of arrivals overwhelming the island.
“He shook my hand and kept the photo,” Nardi says of Pope Francis.
Claudine Nsoe, 29, a mother of two from Cameroon, is one of thousands of migrants who have arrived this week on the island of Lampedusa, Italy.
— Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) September 15, 2023
Nardi and Francis were on their way to a Church conference in Marseilles, France that’s focus was on the migrant issues currently facing Mediterranean nations.
Once there, Francis condemned “belligerent nationalisms” and urged European nations to work together and find a solution to migrant crossings in the Mediterranean Sea which has seen thousands drown.
“There is a cry of pain that resonates most of all, and it is turning the Mediterranean, the ‘mare nostrum’ [our sea], from the cradle of civilization into the ‘mare mortuum’ [sea of death], the graveyard of dignity: it is the stifled cry of migrant brothers and sisters,” Francis said in a speech at the conference.