The Vatican

Victoria, the young woman who invites the Pope to mate: "It's something simple that I can do to make him feel at home".

Victoria Caranti is a young Argentinean woman who has established a sort of "tradition" with the Pope: to bring him mate during the audiences he attends.

Maria José Atienza-April 22, 2024-Reading time: 4 minutes
Victoria, the young woman who invites the Pope to mate

Victoria Caranti is 26 years old and has Argentinian origins, although she grew up in the United States. During Holy Week 2018, she managed to get to Pope Francis a mate Argentine. This casual gesture was not the only one. Years later, in 2021, he moved to Rome to study theology at the University of Rome. Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. Over the years, he has invited the Pope to mate on the various occasions on which he has been with the Holy Father.

A few months after returning to the United States, Victoria keeps in her memory several meetings with Pope Francis, marked by the typical Argentine drink. Victoria brings this drink to the Pope because she knows he enjoys it: "It is something simple that I can do for him so that he can rest, enjoy, feel at home and in his land. Mate is for sharing with others, and for me that includes the Holy Father. It is a gift to be able to do it and I hope that everyone can do something for him, even if it is something simple like praying a little more".

How did you come up with the idea of bringing mate to the Pope? 

-A few years ago, in 2018, when I came to the UNIV During Holy Week in Rome, I managed to get my mate to Pope Francis during the general audience. It was a great moment and I always remembered it as LA time I gave mate to the Pope.

When I came to live in Rome in 2021 we were still with a lot of COVID regulations. So it didn't occur to me to give him mate until November 2022.

I was in Santa Maria Maggiore with my friend Cami, waiting to see the Pope, who was coming to thank Our Lady for his trip to Bahrain. Then Cami was the one who said to me: "And if you give him mate now? It seemed a bit out of place to drink mate in a basilica, but I decided to jump in when I was on my way out. There is not much of a barrier. I was able to kneel in front of her wheelchair and offer her the mate, which she gladly received and the feisty phrase "You're not going to poison me, are you?".

Since then I always have the mate with me when I get to see him up close.

Victoria, the young woman who invites the Pope to mate
Victoria offers mate to the Pope in Santa Maria La Maggiore

What has the Pope said to you the times you have brought him mate? 

-He has told me several things that show his closeness, affection, sense of humor....

The second time I met him in Santa María la Mayor he said to me: "But you, what are you doing here? This shocked me, because it meant that he recognized me as the girl who had given him mate three months before.

Another time he asked me where I was from and when I said "Buenos Aires" his face lit up.

Several times he has told me how the mate is: a little bit cold, too hot, very tasty... or "Cebas very well" (Cebar means that I prepare and serve the mate). It is difficult to have the water for the mate at a good temperature and to pass it through security because they don't let you pass metal bottles...

Once when I went with my parents and my brother to the audience, we also gave him mate. My mother told him that she prayed a lot for him, and he corrected her: "Say the same thing but without the 'a lot'; because those who say a lot are not believed". He repeated this to me on another occasion when I gave him mate in the Paul VI classroom and I made the mistake of saying "much".

The last time we went, one who was with me asked him to say a Hail Mary for her brother. The Pope asked her name and she said she would do it. Twice I have gone with friends on his birthday and he congratulates them and even gives them a rosary! 

What does their "fellow citizen" Pope mean to Argentines?

Victoria, the young woman who invites the Pope to mate
The Pope with the mate offered by Victoria in a General Audience

-I don't know if I could speak for all Argentines but, for me, the fact that the Pope is Argentinean is very special. Of course, I love and support and commend the Pope, whoever he is, because he is the Vicar of Christ. But it is very unique to have a Pope from your homeland, who speaks to you with your accent and knows your culture and customs.

Pope Francis is very close and, for me, the fact that he is Argentinean makes him even more so. Being able to know him in this way makes it easier for me to pray for him and to see the person who is the head of the Church.

No other pope would stop the popemobile for a mate! So I realize that this is very unique in my life. I will remember it forever, so that I will not forget that all the Popes that follow will receive the same affection, even if they are not from my country, because the Church is universal. 

What strikes you most about Pope Francis' personality? 

-His closeness and generosity. He is giving of himself all day long. He has a lot of work and the weight of the whole Church on his shoulders. He is an old man, but that doesn't stop him.

She is always with people and stands with you as if you were the only one at that moment when, in fact, you are nobody!

He is simple and affectionate. He makes jokes like your grandfather would make, but he also talks to you seriously and makes demands. He is a saint. No one his age does half of what he does and with a smile.

Will you continue to bring him mate? 

-Yes, I will take advantage of the opportunities I have! I can't go to the hearings as much because I have classes and I'm going back to the United States, but I'll try one more time.

Apart from these occasions, have you been able to meet him at any other time? 

-I haven't had the chance yet, but let's see if I get it! 

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