Vatican City, 8 June 2019
The Frecciarossa is once more transformed into the Treno dei Bambini (Children’s Train), an initiative promoted by the Cortile dei Gentili in collaboration with Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane which each year brings youths from all over Italy to Pope Francis. This will be the 7th edition of the event that involves children forced into situations of hardship and social fragility. This year’s title is Un Ponte d’Oro in un Mare di Luce (A Bridge of Gold in a Sea of Light), being enriched by a special addition thanks to the support of the Gruppo Onorato Armatori (Moby and Tirrenia) seeing some of the children arriving from Sardinia by ship.
Travelling on Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa 1000 were the students from three schools in Genoa, having been strongly impacted by the collapse of the Ponte Morandi on 14 August 2018. The train stopped in Civitavecchia to allow the boarding of the children who had arrived on the ship Moby Tommy coming from the towns of Sardinia affected by the 2013 floods. For the return trip, they will be guests aboard the Tirrenia Sharden. Before reaching the Vatican, there will be one final stop at Termini station, to welcome a small group from Naples from the Scuola Vela Mascalzone Latino, envisaged and founded by the Shipowner Vincenzo Onorato to offer concrete help to the children of the most run-down areas and complexes in the city.
The children met Pope Francis in the Cortile di San Damaso del Palazzo Apostolic or within the Vatican City. They told the Holy Father about the impact and consequences of the tragedies they had experienced but most importantly, they left a message of hope and solidarity. The theme of the initiative - building bridges to overcome isolation - represents the need to break down every wall, to build in their place bridges of love that are resistant to all floods and collapses that could possibly cause harm to children in their everyday lives.
The initiative is not only an event but also a pedagogical and educational pathway that continues throughout the year, with preparatory activities and scheduled meet-ups and training. The institutions involved in the 2019 edition are the Istituto Comprensivo Certosa, the Giuseppe Mazzini Primary School and the Istituto Comprensivo Sampierdarena da Genova and the Istituto Comprensivo Arzachena 1, the Istituto Comprensivo Statale Olbia, the Istituto Comprensivo Torpè, the Istituto Bitti Onanì-Lula and the Istituto Comprensivo Terralba in Sardinia.
The Cortile dei Gentili is a department of the Pontifical Council for Culture, founded by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi to promote dialogue between believers and non-believers. It is part of the Cortile dei Bambini projects, an area dedicated to children to transmit and construct with them the fundamental values of friendship, solidarity, beauty and love. Un Ponte d’Oro in un Mare di Luce is the 7th edition of the Treno dei Bambini that, since 2013, has transported hundreds of young disadvantaged people to the Vatican. Amongst the participants in the previous editions, for example, were children from the large suburbs of Milan and Roma, migrant children, students at risk of early school-leaving, the children of prisoners and children from the Central Italian cities affected by a recent earthquake.