LEGAZPI CITY, Albay: John Angelo “Angel” Ortiz, 27, a man with cerebral palsy from Riosa village, Tabaco City, Albay, fulfilled his dream to see and personally hand over his gift to Pope Francis.
His gift to the pontiff was a cross-stitched image of Madonna Dolorosa that he made with his feet for more than two months.
Angelo handed over his gift to Francis during the “Encounter with Families” at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on January 16, where he and his family personally met the Pope, who was on a five-day state and apostolic visit to the Philippines.
In an interview here, he said he was very happy to see the pontiff in person.
“It’s just only a dream but my aspiration to see the Pope was made possible through the help of Bishop Joel Baylon,” Angelo said.
When asked what he told Francis during their meeting, the man with cerebral palsy replied that he expressed his love to him.
“I told him, ‘I love you Lolo [Grandfather] Kiko.’ He smiled and blessed me during our encounter. It was an unexplained feeling but I felt something, that the Holy Spirit was within me,” Angelo said.
Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi requested the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines that Angelo be given a chance to see the Pope and for him to be able to personally give Francis his gift.
Msgr. Esteban Lo informed Baylon that Angelo and his family have been given privilege to see the Pope and for him to hand over the visitor’s cross-stitched image.
The diocese included Angelo, his parents and siblings in the delegation after the CBCP decided that every diocese can bring at least 100 people to have an audience with the Pope.
Angelo along with his parents–Edgar, 56, and Herminia, 60, and his two siblings John Carlo, 28 and Catherine, 25—accompanied him to Manila for the meeting with the pontiff.
He was born premature on Ferbuary 27, 1987 and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He graduated from the Special Education Center of San Lorenzo High School in Tabaco City.
Angelo is able to move around with the help of a wheelchair.
He loves to cross-stitch, mostly religious images that he sells.
His interest in cross-stitch began in his younger years but developed it at the age of 12 on the encouragement of his cousin Maria Theresa de Dios Laco.
Angelo thanked Baylon and Fr. Rex Arjona, social action director, for making his dream of seeing the Pope in person possible.