Just a few hours after meeting Pope Francis last month, a spokesperson for First Lady Melania Trump confirmed that she is indeed a Catholic. Following President Donald Trump’s interview with the pontiff, Melania Trump visited a Catholic hospital in Rome to meet several children interned there. Before leaving the Bambino Gesu hospital, she stopped in its chapel to pray alone. She then left flowers before an image of the Virgin Mary, a traditional sign of Catholic piety.
According to an article in the Slovenian edition of Vatican Radio news, Cardinal Franc Rodé, the retired prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, told him that she had been baptized in Raka, her mother’s hometown. It has been presumed that she received baptism as a child even though Slovenia at that time had a Communist government and baptisms were held in secret. Melania was born nearby in Novo Mesto. Curiously, Melania said that her baptism came on the same date as her husband’s birthday.
In Raka, Slovenia, there is a Catholic parish bearing the name of St. Lawrence, one of the earliest martyrs of the faith.
According to the Vatican Radio article, Melania met Cardinal Rodé and his secretary, Matej Pavlič, along with the Slovenian ambassador to Rome, Tomaž Kunstelj, at the American ambassador’s residence in Rome. The meeting took place following Melania’s return from the hospital visit.
Rodé recalled afterward that Melania said that Pope Francis favorably impressed her. He also mentioned that she had brought a Rosary to be blessed by the pontiff. He said, “An interesting thing is that she brought with her her own rosary and asked the pope to bless it. That’s what was seen on TV. Thus, the First Lady of the United States prays the Rosary. That means that the most beautiful thing she brought from Slovenia she still has in the United States.”
Melania averred that her son, Barron, speaks Slovenian with his grandparents, both of whom live in New York City.
Regarding her baptism, she told Rode that it took place in Raka, which is a town near where she grew up, Sevnica in Slovenia. Rode said, “I commented that I knew the date the parish priest, Franc Čampa, had baptized her; I knew him very well; he was the pastor for many years in Mengeš. Mrs. Melania commented, ‘Something interesting is that my baptism was June 14, exactly the day of the birthday of my husband, the president of the United States.’”
Furthermore, Rode said that he knows Fr. Čampa as a “truly a good priest, pious, educated, and very, very close to his people.” Melania responded, he said, “‘My mother spoke of this priest in the same way, just as you describe him.’”