(Philomena Lee poses following a news conference in downtown Rome, February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Philomena Lee, whose long search for the son she was forced to give up as an unwed teenager in Catholic Ireland inspired the Oscar-nominated film bearing her name, says that after meeting Pope Francis she feels forgiven and has forgiven.

“He really made me feel so good inside because I carried the guilt inside me for 50 years, without telling anybody,” Lee, 80, said on Thursday, a day after a brief meeting with the pope.

Her long, ultimately unsuccessful search for the son who was taken from her as an unmarried mother has struck a chord with movie fans across the world and the movie “Philomena” has received four Academy Award nominations.

“I felt such a sense of relief yesterday for the guilt I carried and that I still carry a little bit today because you were made to feel so, so bad about having a baby out of wedlock,” she said, sitting beside her daughter Jane Libberton and actor Steve Coogan, who plays a reporter in the film.