After his Sunday Angelus address on June 23, Pope Francis rushed over to the Vatican Train Station. There, he welcomed 250 excited children between the ages of 6 and 10 who, with their families and teachers, journeyed aboard the “Children’s Train” from Milan to St. Peter’s Basilica.
The children, red hats bobbing as they exited the train, were participants in an initiative of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the “Children’s Train: A Journey Through Beauty”. The Children’s Train is part of the Pontifical Council’s “Courtyard for the Children”—which is, in turn, part of a larger effort to evangelize through culture and the arts, titled the “Courtyard of the Gentiles”.
Children aboard the Children’s Train were from many countries around the world; and all had special needs, such as problems with social inclusion and psycho-social difficulties. The Vatican’s program introduced the children to visual communication and the language of images by showing them great art, especially in the majestic cathedrals, and by offering educational workshops. The seven-car Children’s Train, which originated in Milan, made stops in Bologna and Florence before reaching Vatican City.
The children, many seeing the great dome of St. Peter’s Basilica for the first time, had to wait only a few minutes for the Holy Father to appear. Pope Francis welcomed them with hugs and kisses, asking about their train ride, and wishing them a lovely day of touring while in Rome.