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Pope Francis accepts gift of potholder from Hingham child

A Hingham couple on a religious pilgrimage to the Vatican was lucky enough not only to spot Pope Francis, but to watch his face light up as he received a gift from their daughter.

“I cried, I absolutely cried, I honestly could not believe it,” said Maura Naughton. “I never in a million years thought that I could actually get something to him.”

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Naughton and her husband Laurence arrived in Rome Tuesday with a group of more than 30 others from the Boston area. They attended a general audience with the pope on Wednesday.

“As soon as we told our children that we were going to Rome for an audience with the pope, our 9-year-old, Megan, said ‘I’m going to make the pope some presents,’” Naughton said.

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Megan, who goes to St. Paul Parish in Hingham, chose to go the practical route and made Francis a potholder.

“It came from place of such innocence and sweetness and hope,” said Naughton. “She thought we’d walk right up to the pope and give it to him.”

However, the pontiff’s weekly general audiences regularly draw crowds in the thousands and last just two hours.

“I was in a line 5 feet deep behind another line of people who get to shake hands with him,” Naughton said.

As luck would have it, the Naughtons were standing next to an Italian couple who was able to pass the gift to a priest in the line ahead of them.

“He looked at us like we were crazy and took the potholder,” she said. “He gave it to the pope and pointed back at me, and the pope held it up and smiled and waved.”

Naughton said that by this time “he had been given so many gold chalices” and other gifts, that “for him to take the time to hold up this gift made by a child was so special.”

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He “looked joyful and happy and very genuine,” she added. “It was a moment in time that you can’t recreate, something none of us will ever forget.”

The Naughtons broke the news to Megan Wednesday and said she was “very excited.”

Wednesday also happened to be Naughton’s 46th birthday, and she says she could not have asked for a better gift.

“It was divine intervention that I was next to these people,” she said. “It was quite a birthday present.”


Reenat Sinay can be reached at reenat.sinay@globe.com.