Pope Francis will give this Saturday afternoon a giant mass at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille, transformed into a cathedral for the ceremony. Some 60,000 people are expected in the stadium usually occupied by Olympique de Marseille and, among them, the very religious family of little Emile, who disappeared in early July in Haut-Vernet (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence).
It was the maternal grandparents of the little boy, Philippe and Anne, who had custody of Émile at the time of his disappearance, who announced their arrival in Marseille to the media Famille chrétienne. Their presence in the Phocaean city was made possible thanks to the help of a "friend from Marseille fervent supporter of OM who spoke about us to the vicar general, Father Xavier Manzano," says Philippe.
According to BFMTV, it would be Rachid Zeroual, influential boss of the South Winners, group of ultras supporters of OM and leader of the anti-Pablo Longoria sling.
Friends of Haut-Vernet
The connection between the two families was made thanks to the wife of this OM fan, who owns a house in Haut-Vernet. "Our children have always been friends," says Anne. And this summer, during the tragedy, "they went up right away to look for Émile and they lent their house to house friends and family who came to support us."
"It's funny, but everything went through this man of Muslim faith, and aware of the Christian roots of Marseille," says Philippe. For him: In Marseille, the Good Mother is part of the city, these are our roots, quite simply! The couple says they will be in Marseille this Saturday "with almost all the children! Marie and Colomban (Emile's parents) will be there too. ».
When asked about the court case concerning the disappearance of their grandson, they say they suffer a lot from the media coverage of their family, but also receive a lot of support from all over the France. "What consoles us is the contact with our surroundings. They show so much compassion! Anne says.
Despite new searches launched regularly since July, investigators have not found any trace of the two-and-a-half-year-old boy.