Boy who crashed WYD security to embrace Pope Francis now a seminarian


The boy who bypassed papal security in 2013 to embrace Pope Francis is now a seminarian.

It was at Rio de Janeiro’s World Youth Day (WYD) that nine-year old Nathan de Brito came to fame. He’s the boy who ran to hug the pope and said he wanted to be a priest.

“At that moment of meeting the pope, I could feel God’s enormous affection for me, saying ‘My son, I love you,’ in the arms of the one who welcomes us like a father.

“I had this very great experience of being welcomed by the pope and that he received what I told him. He simply told me: ‘Pray for me and I will pray for you.’

“Of course, we have the obligation to care for our vocation. But knowing that a person so special prays for us is something very special.

“Remembering that encounter is to always rekindle the flame of vocation,” he says.

Developing the priestly vocation

Ten years after meeting Francis, de Brito is a seminarian in a Brazilian preparatory seminary.

“Of course it was not the awakening of my vocation, because I had wanted to be a priest for a long time. But it was, without a doubt, one more motivation within my vocation,” de Brito says.

“I liked to play at celebrating Mass, going to Mass.

“I was an altar boy for many years from the age of five and really enjoyed serving. I also really liked catechism and was in a hurry for the sacraments. I remember my first Eucharist a lot, which was the happiest day of my life.”

De Brito says he was seven when he first said he wanted to be a priest. Until then he’d always said he wanted to be a teacher and a priest, a doctor and a priest, always something and a priest.

“I always emphasise that my call is to holiness. We are all called to holiness and each one has a call, a specific vocation. And I understand that my vocation is to the priesthood, so I said ‘yes’ to this vocation.”

Benedict XVI – the pope of de Brito’s childhood – was important to him. Benedict’s “attraction to the vocation was precisely in him, because he saw in him an imposing figure who spoke timidly, but who spoke very well, he was the man of the liturgy.

“I used to watch the Masses at the Vatican, my eyes wide open.”

Later, when he saw Francis in 2013, he said he saw a pontiff “very close to us.”

“When he was elected pope, my love for the Church and for my vocation grew, because he was someone close to us…

“It’s my duty as a person called to the priesthood to keep that flame burning, if that is God’s will. But those sparks that help us maintain our vocation, like the meeting with Pope Francis, are always very pleasant, very happy to remember.”


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