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Nathan de Brito hugs Pope Francis during the Pope’s visit to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day 2013 (CNA)

The little boy who managed to get past the crowd control barrier at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013 to hug Pope Francis is now a seminarian preparing for the priesthood. Source: CNA.

On July 26, 2013, Mr de Brito, then nine years old, managed to get to the popemobile carrying Pope Francis through the streets of Rio de Janeiro. He then hugged the Holy Father and told him that he wanted to be a priest.

Ten years later, Mr de Brito is in the preparatory seminary of the Archdiocese of Campo Grande in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. For Mr de Brito, “remembering that encounter is to always rekindle the flame of vocation”.

Pope Francis visited Rio de Janeiro for WYD in 2013. It was his first international trip after being elected pope in March of that year.

The photo of the young de Brito hugging Pope Francis soon went viral, becoming one of the most memorable images of the trip.

The young man said that he is moved when he talks about that encounter. 

“It will be 10 years since that great moment in my life. Of course it was not the awakening of my vocation because I had wanted to be a priest for a long time. But it was, without a doubt, one more motivation within my vocation,” Mr de Brito said.

The seminarian said that since he was little, he wanted to be a priest.

“I always emphasise that my call is to holiness. We are all called to holiness and each one has a call, a specific vocation. And I understand that my vocation is to the priesthood, so I said ‘yes’ to this vocation,” he explained.


Boy who got past security barrier to embrace Pope Francis at WYD 2013 is now a seminarian (By Natalia Zimbrão, CNA)