Teenager crosses South America on foot to see Pope

By Estefania Aguirre

Facundo (center) traveled across South America on foot to attend World Youth Day. Credit: Estefania Aguirre/CNA.

.- Unable to afford transportation, a teenage boy traveled 1,829 miles to Rio de Janeiro by foot in order to see Pope Francis during World Youth Day.

Young Facundo spent one month horizontally crossing almost the entire South American continent – from his hometown of Jujuy, Argentina to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – to take part in the July 23 – 28 global youth event.

“I wanted to come with the people of Jujuy but I couldn’t because I would have had to pay 7,000 pesos ($1,280 U.S. dollars) and that’s a lot of money,” said Facundo.

“I kept asking them if I could come with them, but they wouldn’t let me,” he told CNA July 26.

Facundo, who graduated high school last year, was only guided by a route that his local priest mapped out for him.

“I was very lost in Argentina and I just let myself be guided when I got to Brazil,” he said. “But I was so lost in the big cities, like Sao Paolo because I had never been out of my town and I’d never taken a metro.”

The teenager touched on the angst he felt months ago when he felt called to go to World Youth Day but was afraid of traveling alone.

“No, I can’t because I don’t have enough money,” he remembers saying aloud.

However, on March 19, “I entered in a Church to pray on my birthday,” he said. A “priest was there and I began crying a lot but I didn’t know why.”

After the priest asked Facundo why he was crying, Facundo did not know what to reply so he said he wanted to confess.

“After confession he asked me if I wanted to go to World Youth Day and I looked up and saw a picture of Pope Francis with his arms extended and I said ‘yes, I’m going.’”

Warning him of the dangers, the priest said that strangers could rob him. “I replied ‘I don’t care,’” Facundo recalls.

The priest was reluctant because he did not know where the boy would sleep or what he would eat, and his mother told him he was crazy. Facundo said he left Jujuy “very excited” on July 1, telling his family just the day before.

“My family asked me why I was leaving so early and who would be traveling with me and I said I would be traveling with Jesus,” he stated.

“My family began crying because they were very scared, especially my grandmother who got sick because of this.”

His mother, however, gave him 600 pesos ($110 U.S. dollars) and he began his walk to Rio de Janeiro.

“A backpacker depends on money, but I became a real pilgrim because a pilgrim just depends on faith,” remarked Facundo.

“I would go into churches to pray and everyone would look at me, but I didn’t care because I just wanted to fill myself up with more faith.”

Facundo said that when he reached the border with Brazil, he only had 100 pesos ($20 U.S. Dollars) so he decided “to not depend on money anymore, only on prayer.”

He walked passed the statue of Our Lady of Itatí and he would then always repeat to himself “Our Lady protects me and Jesus accompanies me.”

“The biggest challenge was entering Brazil, with just $13 U.S Dollars, going hungry and not knowing the language,” said Facundo.

The boy hitchhiked and a bus driver gave him a lift, who left him at a Cathedral of Iguazu where he heard his first mass in Portuguese and slept in a Franciscan school.

Those at the school offered him a direct flight, but he decided to tag along with other monks who arrived from Boston and were walking to Rio because he thought it would be a better and “more beautiful” pilgrimage.

He traveled day and night and when he was scared, he would pray constantly the Rosary.

“At one point I felt I couldn’t do it anymore and I just kept crying and praying for Jesus to protect everyone and for his will to be done,” said Facundo.

After two days going hungry and his toes bruised and blistered, a man traveling to Sao Paolo gave Facundo and the monks a ride.

“It was very dangerous because we didn’t have a place to sleep but I just kept praying the rosary,” he said.

He arrived the day before World Youth Day to the Marian shrine of Aparecida. “There was a festival going on and I realized how close I was so I began crying,” said Facundo.

“I met another Argentinian priest and we went hungry, but we finally made it to Rio,” he said. “I was hungry but I was happy.”

The Pope, he said, always says a Christian is happy adding “money isn’t worth anything, it just gives you security, but Jesus gives you trust and hope.”

Facundo met a volunteer of World Youth Day who sent him to a convent opposite the beach in Rio to sleep for a week.

“But before seeing the beach, I prefer to see the Pope,” he said. “I couldn’t see him when he went along with his Pope mobile the other day.”

“I had to choose between seeing him another day and going to Mass, but I chose the Eucharist,” he said.

He stressed that he hopes to tell the Pope that he is right, “we should let ourselves be guided by Jesus and I did that.”

“I would like to meet the Pope because priests and Popes don’t notice poor people and he lived directly with the poor people like if he was their brother,” Facundo said.

“It’s worth seeing a Pope who notices poor people and that’s why I would like to meet him,” he said. “I would really like to tell him how nice it is to follow Jesus and that he is right.”

This entry was posted in World Youth Day and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Teenager crosses South America on foot to see Pope

  1. tiva82 says:

    That’s Brave


  2. Frere Rabit says:

    THAT is pilgrimage! Maybe those of us who swan about on the Camino de Santiago could quietly learn from this lad. Please God, let his journey home be paid.


  3. johnhenrycn says:

    Well, okay, he’s a great kid. He was on the road for 22 days to greet the Pope. But 1829 miles/22days = 83 miles per day. 3.46 miles per hour? 24/7? Not including the several times he got lost along the way? No, I suggest he spent most of his time on a bus or hitching rides. Which is not to say his pilgrimage was any the less a fine example of healthy penitential mortification.


  4. Wow, that is amazing. What a wonderful journey! I have never done anything that brave, but it really sounds wonderful. I hope that he will be able to see the Pope after all that (and I wonder how he will get home?) It is inspiring to hear a story like that.


  5. JabbaPapa says:

    It’s a fantastic story !!

    And Rabit ?

    Please God, let his journey home be paid.

    Apparently, he wants to walk home too (though he’s looking for a lift to the Argentine border)



  6. golden chersonnese says:

    JH, Facundo’s local rag says he hitchhiked (viajó a dedo – “travelled by finger”), so you’re right again.

    I see where he comes from (Jujuy) is a province right in the top left-hand corner of Argentina, bordering Bolivia and Chile. It’s getting into the Andes there and was Inca territory. Facundo himself looks Amerindian.

    A great story. I see he kept a log on Facebook (but I can’t find it).

    Here’s a story and video on him (google translate?, except Kathleen, Toad and Frere Rabit?):


    And here he is again in his local rag:


    (He looks like a giant, standing among the Sisters).


  7. Frere Rabit says:

    While the epic pilgrim journey of the young man is to be saluted, I wonder if he found the event worth the effort. The dire spectacle of geriatric bishops bopping to some mindless disco beat was an embarrassment. The questionable doctrine in some of the words of Pope Francis is frankly quite troubling. I was prepared to give this pope more time and hoping he could be trusted but I find it hard to be optimistic.

    For example today comes news about the prohibition of Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the Franciscans of the Immaculate (HT Lawrence England). This move comes directly from the top. Is this the beginning of the end for the liturgical legacy of Benedict XVI ?



  8. Frere Rabit says:

    I have just made the connection, and of course the Franciscans of the Immaculate run the Lateran Basilica, the seat of Pope Francis as Bishop of Rome. His ban on the EF from August 11 will drive the traditional Mass out of his own church. The article by Sandro Magister on the above subject is even more worthwhile reading. http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1350567?eng=y The Latin Mass Society also report the story on their news today. This is quite a shock.


  9. Frere Rabit says:

    The Italian Latin Mass website reported this yesterday http://blog.messainlatino.it/2013/07/notizia-tremenda.html One of the comments refers to the news as an “earthquake”. It is. The blogosphere is very slow to wake up to this. CPS needs a well-informed article, quickly.


  10. JabbaPapa says:

    I have just made the connection, and of course the Franciscans of the Immaculate run the Lateran Basilica, the seat of Pope Francis as Bishop of Rome. His ban on the EF from August 11 will drive the traditional Mass out of his own church.

    ewwwwwwwwww !!!!

    Let’s pray the Prefects of the Congregations for Divine Worship and the Doctrine of the Faith, plus the Ecclesia Dei Commission, start throwing their weight around !!!


  11. Toad says:

    “Teenager crosses South America on foot to see Pope”

    The headline is clearly totally inaccurate, The boy did not.
    The story raises many more questions than it answers.
    The loony, Atheistic, left-wing media strikes yet again, it seems.


    What is the world coming to?


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s