ITF News

Honorary Diploma of Black Belt to Pope Francis

We are honored and pleased to announce that Pope Francis gladly received the honorary diploma of ITF Black Belt from the hands of Grand Master Armando Grispino who visited the Holy See.

Pope Francis receiving the black belt from GM Grispino

Pope Francis receiving the black belt from GM Grispino

Here is the account of the facts, by the protagonist himself, GM Grispino:

“Since the month of February and for personal reasons, I initiated contacts with the Argentine Ambassador to the Vatican, Mr. Eduardo Valdes, to manage an encounter with Pope Francis.

Grandmaster Grispino with the Argentine Ambassador

Grandmaster Grispino with the Argentine Ambassador

From that initiative, along with President Pablo Trajtenberg, emerged the idea of making all the arrangements to the Holy See to get that encounter and in that opportunity, give the Holy Father the honorary certificate of ITF Taekwon-Do and its corresponding black belt.

Pope Francis receives the honorary ITF Black Belt Diploma

Pope Francis receives the honorary ITF Black Belt Diploma

When the day of the general audience arrived, on the past Wednesday June 3rd, 2015, all those authorized for the visit headed to the Argentinean Embassy, from where we left to Vatican City aboard the official Vatican bus.

Upon our arrival, we were placed in the space reserved for authorities, at the right and nearest to the central atrium and therefore, to the Holy Father.

Between surprise and excitement, we listen attentively the message the Pope gave to the families of the entire world, mainly referred to family togetherness.

giving the certificate to pope

For that reason I want to share this wonderful experience with the great family of ITF Taekwon-Do.

Let me highlight the humility that characterizes Pope Francis, which can be seen in his living way and in his repeated expression about wanting a “poor Church and to the poor.”

I assure you it was very exciting to hear those words.

greetting pope 2

At the end of the protocol of the Hearing, Francis went to greet the present authorities and was there when, in the company of Argentine Ambassador, Eduardo Valdes, and my wife Patricia, I presented him with an ITF Honorary Certificate and a black belt.

greetting pope

Upon receiving the Diploma and the belt into his hands, absolutely amazed and with the simplicity and warmth that characterizes him, the Holy Father expressed with a smile: “I am now a black belt in Taekwon-Do”.

I was the last person in greeting him and for that motive, Francis gave me a little more of his appreciated time and, still smiling joked: “now you are the ambassador of ITF Taekwon-Do to the Holy See.”

seeing the black belt

Finally, through me he sent his blessing to all Taekwon-Do practitioners and left open the possibility that next year, after completion of the World Cup in Hungary, the Argentina Selection can visit him in one of the General Audiences.

Undoubtedly, the intimate experience that I have lived in that encounter was the one to be in front of a simple man, with an amazing peace that constantly transmits in every act, in every word, in every gesture.

showing the certificate

Let me then suggest, that having learnt from the example of Francis, let’s put aside our egos, providing all our wisdom, which was conveyed to us by General Choi, to our students.

Thank You Pope Francis for allowing me these few but wonderful minutes close to you and, as you says, “Pray for me”.

Thanks to my wife, Patricia, for supporting me and assisting me in this gestion.

Thanks to Ambassador Eduardo Valdes, for all your kindness.

Thanks to my friends in Taekwon-Do, to President Trajtenberg, to the Secretary Ferrando and to the Grand Masters who supported me in this initiative.

And thanks for allowing me share this experience with you.”



GM Armando Grispino




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