(Photo: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi)
A Massachusetts woman who nearly lost her faith over the sudden death of her 25-year-old son received a surprise phone message last week from a Vatican representative, which she believes to be Pope Francis, offering her a big "hug and blessing" in her difficult time.
FoxNews.com reported that the woman, Stephany Nicolo, received the message on her cellphone on Friday from a man who identified himself as a representative from the Vatican, who said that the Roman Catholic Church leader sends her a "big hug and a blessing" and will try to talk to her again.
Nicolo lost her son Eric on May 14 from an epileptic seizure, which left her devastated. The 58-year-old woman, a Roman Catholic, called the Vatican days following her loss.
"I was very, very upset and I said, 'I don't believe in God anymore,' " Nicolo said, adding that she was "sobbing uncontrollably" when she left her name and telephone number with a Vatican representative. "Why would he take my son?"
While a Vatican spokesman could not immediately confirm whether the man who left the phone message was indeed the pope, Nicolo shared that it left her deeply grateful.
"I want him to know I love him. He has helped me so much in my time of grief. There are no words to describe what this phone call has done for me," she said of Pope Francis.
"I've always loved my faith, but when your child is taken, you can't help but question it. It renewed my faith and belief in God."
Nicolo added that she is reassured that her son is at peace, and that she feels that her faith has grown stronger.
Francis has become known for making personal phone calls to people who have reached out to him, though the Vatican has clarified that the pontiff's conversations constitute his "personal pastoral relationships" and "do not in any way form a part of the pope's public activities."
The pope has often made international headlines for reaching out to the poor, hurting and disabled. Last year, several photos went viral showing him in separate instances embracing severely disfigured people who came to visit him at the Vatican.