A Prayer for Grandmas, With Love From Francis

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

On Tuesday, Pope Francis will finish up his visit to Cuba and hop on a plane to the United States. At his last mass on the island, he celebrated the role of Mary in the Church, speaking at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre in Santiago.

But what this really means is that the pope had an excuse to cheer on moms and grandmas. He gave them big ups for sustaining the country through periods of hard times over the last decades:

The soul of the Cuban people, as we have just heard, was forged amid suffering and privation which could not suppress the faith, that faith which was kept alive thanks to all those grandmothers who fostered, in the daily life of their homes, the living presence of God, the presence of the Father who liberates, strengthens, heals, grants courage and serves as a sure refuge and the sign of a new resurrection. Grandmothers, mothers, and so many others who with tenderness and love were signs of visitation, valor, and faith for their grandchildren, in their families. They kept open a tiny space, small as a mustard seed, through which the Holy Spirit continued to accompany the heartbeat of this people.

Grandmothers: the keepers of the tiny mustard seeds of soul. Now that’s some lovely imagery.