Eugenio Scalfari told the BBC about his request in an interview aired this week

The 90-year-old Italian atheist who twice interviewed Pope Francis has revealed that he asked the Pope to bless his family.

Eugenio Scalfari, one of Italy’s most prominent atheist intellectuals and for 20 years the editor of the newspaper La Repubblica, said the Pope had visited his family and blessed them following his request.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, he said: “I have told the Pope something else. I want him to bless my family. ‘Whatever you want,’ he told me. ‘Just call me and I will receive your family and bless them.'”

His comments were aired this week during “Francis, the Pope’s calling”, an episode of The Report.