By Liz Sullivan
For anyone, a trip to the Vatican is an experience of lifetime, for two students at Resurrection Catholic School, it was also a chance to go home.
Eighth grader Tommaso Peritore and his brother seventh grader Vittorio are in the midst of their first year at the school in Sunnyvale. The Peritore family relocated from Corbetta Italy, south of Milan, to Northern California in July, 2015, after father Roberto took a job as an engineer with an electronics company.
In early March, the brothers returned to Italy to travel with their former classmates to the Vatican. While there Tomasso and Vittorio saw Pope Francis and had a private audience with Pope Emeritus Benedict.
“I was so excited to go back,” said Vittorio, 12, who spent 10 days in Italy with his brother. “I missed my family so much. Meeting the Pope changed me. It changed how I look at things. It helped me when I come back here.”
Tommaso said Pope Benedict asked him what his favorite subject was. The 14-year old answered “math.”
“Pope Benedict is very personable,” said Tommaso, the oldest of six brothers. “He took care to speak to each of us. He puts himself in the same level as us.”
This was actually the brothers’ second meeting with Pope Benedict. They met him three years ago.
“He has aged,” said Vittorio about the 88-year old pontiff.
The brothers visited the Vatican with their classmates from San Girolamo Emiliani School in Corbetta. Specifically it was a youth group of students from the school’s Knights de Graal, or Knights of the Grail.
“When we moved here, I really missed that connection to the Knights,” said Vittorio. “We would like to get more people involved in the group of the Knights.”
Said Tommaso, “It brought me back to last year and it was like we had never been away. The Knights are something I belong to and that meant something, especially with all of the new things here.”
Tommaso said the Knights have a strict code of faith that they follow. That strict policy meant writing a letter to Pope Francis about “The Promise.” Tommaso said he says the Angelus (Catholic devotion commemorating the Incarnation of God).
“It is about Jesus’ promise to us,” he said. “We ask God that we keep that yes to the promise every day. It is saying yes to his promise. We take this vow every year.”
The Peritore brothers love for the Knights is so strong that in January they helped start a version of the club here in the Bay Area with Italian expats and American friends.
“We have about seven families,” said Tommaso. “It is pretty big on the East Coast.”
After more than six months in America, the Peritore brothers said they have settled into life here. Next year, Tommaso will attend Wilcox High School in Santa Clara.
“Coming to America was a chance to restart our lives,” said Vittorio, who admitted knowing little English before living here. “People have really helped us since we’ve been here. They didn’t have to, but they did. We knew it would be hard, but we know God is with us.”