Superhero in the audience: Spider-Man who makes sick children smile

Among the faithful who took part in the general audience, a young man dressed as Spider-Man did not go unnoticed. His story, told in the L’Osservatore Romano this afternoon, is intertwined with the story of the many children admitted to children’s hospitals. Francisco also welcomed the grandmother, accompanied by her grandson, who won the Covid-19 award with 95-year-old enthusiasm.

Giampaolo Matti / Mariangela Jagurapa – Vatican News

Spider-Man is really a good superhero. He works as an employee of a portal company in Fado Ligure, Italy, but then puts on a Spider-Man mask and costume and goes to stay with the children who are admitted to hospitals.

On Wednesday morning (06/23), at a public meeting with Pope Francis, in Patio São Damaso, Spider-Man not only handed over the mask of the superhero, but also revealed his identity, Mattia Villardita, 28, and his next assignment: Children’s wards in a hospital Agostino Gimelli in Rome, where he will go with the Italian police orchestra on the initiative of the Vatican Public Security Inspectorate. “But the real superheroes are the children who struggle and their families who struggle with such hope,” Mattia said.

“I dress like Spider-Man to make hospital kids smile. I do it because I have a congenital disease. For 19 years I’ve been in and out of Gaslini Hospital in Genoa, and I would have loved it so much when I was there, alone, in my bed, watching Spider-Man come in from My bedroom window … ”, he said. This is how you become Spider-Man “with your heart”. There is no ‘superhero course’ even though Mattia has set up the Hospital Superhero Society: “We are a group of young volunteers, dressed as ‘heroes’, taking moments of distraction in hospital children’s wards.” “I used this mask for the first time 4 years ago, at Christmas: I had to connect a computer to the Hospital of São Paulo de Imperia and invented something that could entertain the children who were living what I also lived.”

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On assignment at Gemelli . Hospital

Spider-Man also performed his feats in lockdown: “I made over 1,400 video calls because I couldn’t go in person,” he said. Mattia accompanies the children through constant communication with their parents even when they come home: “We organize surprise parties or simply deliver pizza,” he said. Last year, the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, awarded him the Order of Merit for “altruism and imaginative initiatives by which he contributes to alleviating the suffering of young patients in hospital.” A perfect definition of a superhero could be, “One who tries to make the world better than what he found.”

On Wednesday afternoon (23rd), at Gemelli Hospital, Spider-Man also meets the community of people with fibromyalgia, an “unrecognized” disease that affects 2 million people in Italy, and the people who watch them often. A health and pastoral point of view.

This morning, with affection, Francis encouraged a group of patients and doctors from Gemelli Hospital, accompanied by Father. Carlo Abate who accompanies, through the Ministry of Health of the Diocese of Rome, this work of support and outreach.

Other initiatives at the hearing

Moreover, during the audience, Cardinal Aquilino Bocos Merino introduced the Pope to the authors and heroes of the film “The Claret”, while the Young Sisters of Christ and the Polish nuns of Saint Mary Magdalene re-launched the meaning of penance with Francis their allure.

Among those present were representatives of the award “Maria Grazia Cutoli”, named after the Italian journalist from Corriere della Sera who was killed in Afghanistan in 2001. Finally, with special affection, the Pope greeted “Grandma Alba” accompanied by her grandson Valério, who won the Covid- 19 with enthusiasm his 95 years. Testimony is a real encouragement for the International Day of Grandparents and Older People, which is celebrated on July 25.

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