Pope Francis to meet nun cousin during Thailand visit
The first papal visit to Thailand in 35 years will include a family reunion. Pope Francis will reunite with his cousin Sister Ana Rosa Sivori, a nun teaching at a Thai girl’s school when he visits the Kingdom in November.
Pope Francis’s four-day visit will be the first stop on a multi-country journey through Asia. Thailand has over 400,000 followers of Catholicism. While over 95 percent of Thais are Buddhist, the Kingdom has always welcomed those of other faiths to live and worship within its borders.
The Pope’s cousin, Sister Ana, came to Thailand in 1966 from her home in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. She has been teaching at St. Mary’s girls’ school in Udon Thani province, about 355 miles northeast of Bangkok ever since. Her students and neighbors only realized recently that their vice-principal is related to the Pope.
“Many people who are not Catholics, they are asking me every time. Is he coming? When is he coming? He, will he be coming? Because it means that they are interested. They want to see him. They want to meet him,” Sister Ana said.
The upcoming visit has transformed Sister Ana from an unknown figure outside of her local community to a notable person throughout the nation. And Thailand is where Pope Francis wants his cousin to stay.
“He spoke to our mother-general, the superior-general of the congregation, saying that my work is in Thailand, to do the work in Thailand, so you don’t move her anywhere,” she said.
Christian missionaries have played an important role in Thailand’s history. While only a small percentage of Thais have converted to Christianity, the missionaries introduced a wealth of new knowledge and technologies to the country that was then Siam in the 19th century.
Among the advances, they brought with them modern printing, medicine, microscopes, and telescopes, among others. They established schools and clinics and were welcomed at court by Siam’s kings.
Photo courtesy of https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-the-church-is-a-home-for-the-lost-53599