Portroe’s Nan Kelly shakes hands with Pope Francis during Vatican visit

The Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly, and his mother, Nan, are greeted by Pope Francis when the pontiff met EU Environment and Climate Ministers as well as Environment Commissioner Vella and Climate Commissioner Arias Ca�ete. Story: page 22
Portroe woman Nan Kelly has spoken of how privileged she was to meet Pope Francis last week. Mrs Kelly was in The Vatican with her son, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, who was in Rome as part of a EU ministers for the enviroment meeting on climate change and the environment.

Portroe woman Nan Kelly has spoken of how privileged she was to meet Pope Francis last week. Mrs Kelly was in The Vatican with her son, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, who was in Rome as part of a EU ministers for the enviroment meeting on climate change and the environment.

“It was a big surprise,” Nan told the Tipperary Star this week. “When he came into the room we all stood up. The ministers were in front and I was behind. Alan said his few words and then he stepped back and said: ‘That’s my mother’.”

Nan revealed that the Pope shook hands and spoke to her but she could not understand what he was saying.

“It was a privilge and and honour. It was very emotional. I was not expecting him to speak to me or shake my hand. I was just delighted to be in the room and be able to be so near him,” said Nan, who had only found out the previous day that she was on her way to Rome.

She revealed that she also happened to be in Rome with her husband, Tom, the day Pope Francis was elected and never thought she would be back in the Eternal City again. “We were no where near him but it was lovely to be there to see what was happening,” she said.

And the woman who has met many famous names over the years, including Bono, the Clintons and Barack Obama, clearly put Pope Francis at the top of the list.

“He seems to be a down-to-earth type of a man. He loves to meet people. He is a people’s Pope. What makes him special is he doesn’t think he is any different from anybody else. As you might say, he’s one of our own,” said Nan, who also said she found Bono to be a “very nice fellow” who was also down-to-earth.

Son Alan told the Star it was “an amazing experience to bring my own mother to meet the Pope. It was a very happy and emotional occasion. It was one of the best moments of my life because she has done evrything for me.”

He revealed his mother has been to Lourdes 31 times and will shortly go on her 11th trip to help the orphans in Belarus.

Minister Kelly described Pope Francis as “very charismatic and engaging”, and as a person who would bring the Church closer to the people.

“What I was taken by was the number of young people around The Vatican. He is a breath of fresh air,” he said.