St Albans’ Philomena meets the Pope at the Vatican

Philomena Lee and Steve Coogan greet Pope Francis - Photo Kate Bowe PR

Philomena Lee and Steve Coogan greet Pope Francis - Photo Kate Bowe PR - Credit: Kate Bowe PR

Philomena Lee, the inspiration for the Oscar-nominated film Philomena, met Pope Francis in Rome last week after being invited by the Vatican.

The octogenarian St Albans resident was joined by actor Steve Coogan and her daughter Jane Libberton at the heart of the Catholic Church to raise awareness of the Philomena Project.

The group are lobbying for the release of over 60,000 adoption files held by the Irish state, churches and private agencies.

Coogan, who starred in the film and co-wrote it, introduced Philomena to the pontiff and said to him: “She has become a symbol of reconciliation and forgiveness.”

Philomena said she was honoured and “very happy” to meet him and told the Argentinian Pope: “our message is your message”.

The 266th Pope sent his closest advisor Monsignor Guillermo Karcher to watch the box-office hit in a special screening with the Irish former nurse during the day.

Speaking about The Philomena Project before her visit to Rome, Philomena said: “I’ve been so moved by the support we’ve received, both for telling our story and for bringing attention to this experience that so many of us had.

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“My daughter Jane and I established The Philomena Project because we’ve heard from so many people who saw my story and want to help.”

She added: “It is my hope that this effort will help us find solutions that ensure every mother and child who wants to be reunited are able to come together once again.”

For more information on the cause visit