The “symbolic” image of a child who gives alms to the Pope in South Sudan, the poorest country in the world

The “symbolic” image of a child who gives alms to the Pope in South Sudan, the poorest country in the world

South Sudan is the last stop for Pope Francis on his tenth trip to Africa. A journey that began in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that aims to draw international attention to some of the worst humanitarian crises on the continent in two countries with a high rate of poverty.

In fact, South Sudan is the poorest country in the world. For this reason, an image shared by the Vatican on the networks in which a South Sudanese child appears giving alms to the Pope has impacted. In the photo you can see how the minor, through a gate that separated him from the street through which the Pontiff passed in a wheelchair after going to the Juba cathedral, hands him the ticket. Jorge Mario Bergoglio stopped to pick up that South Sudanese pound, equivalent to 0.007 euros.

A 0.007 euro bill

The Pope was thus moved as he left the Catholic temple, where he received a mass bath. He had just met with nuns, priests and seminarians in the Cathedral of Santa Teresa. The editorial director of the Vatican, Andrea Tornielli, is the one who made the snapshot public. He called it a “symbol photo of the trip.” “Whoever is poor donates everything he has,” he wrote in a tweet.

When the country launched the currency in 2011, the exchange rate was $1 for every 2.75 South Sudanese pounds. To deal with the skyrocketing level of inflation, in March 2022, the currency was devalued: to buy a dollar they needed to pay 425 South Sudanese pounds.

Pope Francis launched “the most urgent appeal” for an end to the conflicts and a serious resumption of the peace process in South Sudan in the meeting he held with the representatives of the two million internally displaced persons.

“I express with all my strength, the most urgent call to cease all conflict, to seriously resume the peace process so that the aggressions end and people can return to live in a dignified manner. Only with peace, stability and justice there may be development and social reintegration. But we can’t wait any longer,” he said after listening to the testimonies of some children living in camps for displaced persons.

A large number of children born in these years have only known the reality of the camps for displaced persons

Pope Francisco

As the Pope recalled at the Freedom Hall in Juba, where he heard their testimonies, “a large number of children born in these years have only known the reality of the camps for displaced persons, forgetting their home environment, losing their link with their own land of origin, with roots, with traditions. There can be no future in the camps for displaced persons”.

“It is necessary … that all young people have the possibility to go to school and also the space to play soccer,” Pope Francis told Johnson, one of the boys who presented his testimony.

Centenares de devotos  Spectators hold placards and potraits of the Pontiff as they gather ahead of Pope Francis’ arrival for a meeting with bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons and seminarians at the Cathedral of Saint Therese, in Juba, South Sudan, 04 February 2023. Pope Francis is on a three-day visit to South Sudan to promote peace and reconciliation in the world’s youngest country, riven by the scars of civil war and extreme poverty. (Papa) EFE/EPA/CIRO FUSCO


The Pontiff leads an ecumenical pilgrimage of peace in the African country, accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields. The African continent is one of the few places in the world where the number of faithful of the Catholic Church is growing.

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Anna Buj



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