Rafael Freitas is a three-year-old boy in Brazil who loves to pretend to celebrate Mass. He says he wants to be Pope someday.
He also has an aggressive form of cancer.
“At the facility where he receives his care there is a common area and little Rafael invites all the patients to come there to attend his ‘Mass,’” said the boy’s father, Randersson Freitas.
He said his son has had a long devotion to the Mass.
“When he started walking just after he turned one year old, Rafael started imitating the priest every time we went to Mass. When the priest raised up the chalice, he would raise up his little cup,” Randersson told CNA.
In 2014, doctors told Rafael’s parents that the little boy was suffering from a stage 4 form of childhood cancer that affects the nervous system and the bones.
In March 2014, Rafael received chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital in the city of Barretos, but doctors said there was no hope he would recover. Despite being placed in the wing for terminal patients, Rafael began to improve thanks to the intense treatments and the prayers of his family and many friends. Doctors now say he has a chance to survive the cancer.
Once at the hospital chapel where Rafael attends Mass with his parents, the boy asked the chaplain for a peculiar gift: a paten, the small golden plate used at Mass to hold the Host. The priest gave him one and also gave him a small tunic and stole made just to fit him.
“The priest thought Rafael’s request was so beautiful that he gave him a whole set of unused liturgical objects. The day he received them he must have celebrated 300 hundred Masses,” his father joked. “He was still ‘celebrating’ Mass at 11 o’clock that night.”
His father said it was “the best gift” his son could have received. Thousands of people have watched a video of the boy’s pretend Mass that his parents posted to Facebook. Rafael’s father suggested the boy was imitating his parents.
“We are extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist and we strive to attend Mass every day,” Randersson said.
Rafael’s parents say the little boy’s health is still at risk.
“We are in a crucial week when new tests will be done to figure out what needs to be done still. Perhaps he will need a bone marrow transplant,” Randersson said.
“We ask prayers from all bishops, priests, religious, laity and families. Pray for Rafael. Let us form a prayer chain. We know that Rafael’s healing is in God’s hands and we hope that this miracle will take place.”