Children from a Paisley Primary School were stunned when their prayer bear was sent on a trip to the Vatican – and got to meet the Pope.

St Charles’ Primary School gave Mungo the bear to Bishop of Paisley, John Keenan to take on a visit to Rome.

But they couldn’t believe their eyes when the teddy turned up at the Vatican with Pope Francis.

The school’s idea of using prayer bears came from this years ‘The World Meeting of Families’ in Dublin where they heard how a parish in Ardboe, Armagh had introduced prayer bears in local primary schools.

After sharing the idea with their own Parish Priest, Father Jim Duggan and Bishop Keenan, each agreed to take a bear on their travels.

The bears – named Mungo and Maggie, after Scottish saints –  both set off complete with backpacks and their own rosary beads and Mungo acompanied Bishop Keenan to Rome on a visit with the rest of Scotland’s bishops on their five yearly visit.

Bishop Keenan said: “I am delighted to have been able to present Pope Francis with Mungo the prayer bear of St. Charles’ Primary School in Paisley.
“He was very pleased to hear about the good work of our young people in Scotland and I promised that we will continue to keep him in our prayers.”

St Charles’ Head teacher Grace Hannigan said: “The children, staff and parents have all been absolutely thrilled to see the photograph of Mungo with Pope Francis.

“Maggie’s first stop was Rome where she visited churches before heading to the Basilica in Ravenna and then onwards to Venice. Mungo headed straight to the Vatican and we couldn’t believe it when he managed to see and spend time with Pope Francis.

“We thought the bears were a wonderful idea, so simple and yet powerful, showing faith in action in our community.

“We hope when they return to school they will share their adventures with our children and tell them what they have learned about our faith. “

Children will be given the opportunity to take the bears home and each month the furry friends will attend First Friday Mass in St Charles’ Church with children from the school.

The head teacher added: “We already have plans for Maggie to visit Carfin Grotto next month and Mungo is booked to go to Lourdes in summer of 2019.”