Asia, a yellow Labrador Retriever, was one of the many lucky who got to meet Pope Francis. Asia is however very special, as she is the only dog to receive a blessing from the newly-elected Pontiff, who took his name after Saint Francis, the Catholic patron saint of animals.
Asia is the guide dog of Alessandro Forlani, a visually impaired radio journalist from Italy. Forlani arrived at the Vatican’s international media session on Saturday and was told by the guards that he most probably was not going to be allowed in, because Asia was with him. However, after only a few minutes, they were let in and accompanied by a Swiss guard to the audience hall, where they sat in the front rows. After his thank you speech, Pope Francis asked to personally meet them, something not common in the Vatican. Forlani asked for a blessing for his wife and daughter who were at home, but the pope blessed Asia as well while he kindly patted her.