Pope Francis was surprised by the appearance of a young autistic girl on stage during the Aug. 21 general audience in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican. Clelia Manfellotti, a 10-year-old girl from Naples diagnosed with autism, walked up the steps to the stage near the Pope.
The Pope said to those around "let her be … God speaks" through children. The girl began to clap and dance on the stage and the audience applauded the Holy Father's words.
Pope Francis then said of the young girl she is "a victim of an illness and doesn't know what she is doing."
"I ask one thing, but everyone should respond in their heart: 'Did I pray for her; looking at her, did I pray so that the Lord would heal her, would protect her? Did I pray for her parents and for family?' When we see any person suffering, we must always pray. This situation helps us to ask this question: 'Did I pray for this person that I have seen, (this person) that is suffering?'" he asked.