FRANCIS IN ROME, Maria Fischer •
Pope Francis once again offered a glimpse of the works of mercy he undertakes every Friday as part of the Jubilee of Mercy. This time he visited the neo-natal unit at the San Giovanni Hospital in Rome and a hospice that houses 30 terminally ill patients.
Where babies fight for their lives
The man in white dressed in green and visited babies who are fighting for their lives in incubators, and terminally ill patients who are waiting for the end of their lives. Francis arrived without fanfare, without prior warning so that no one would make a big deal or set up microphones or plaques for him to inaugurate. The Pope came to make visible the reality of God’s mercy amongst the weakest members of society.
During the visit, which surprised the personnel, Francis had to take the necessary hygiene precautions, and therefore, we can only see his face covered with a mask and wearing sterilized clothing so as not to infect the environment where the babies are kept. The pontiff went to each of the incubators and greeted the parents, to whom he offered his consolation.
Little Pilgrim Mother for babies at risk
This reminds us of the more demanding version of the Pilgrim Mother Campaign, the one for babies and children at risk. How often is the “Little” Pilgrim Mother placed on top of an incubator, where a baby is fighting for its life…How often does she console the parents…How often, through her instruments, her missionaries, does she give out hugs, food, clothes to the parents, offers a shoulder to cry on, a prayer when there are no words and confidence…How often does she cry with the parents, who after struggling for so long, need to entrust their child into God’s hands…How often does she give thanks with them for the life and health of a young fighter…
Visiting the dying
Pope Francis then visited the “Villa Speranza” [Village of Hope] Hospice where 30 terminally ill patients are hospitalized. The building – which belongs to the Gemelli University Hospital Foundation at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart – can be found on Via della Pineta Sacchetti in Rome.
The Pope greeted each of the patients in their room. It was a big surprise, both for the patients and their family members. They could hardly believe it, between tears and smiles of joy.
The Vatican Office explained that the Pontiff wants to use these “Mercy Fridays,” to give a strong sign of the importance of life, from its first moment to its natural end.
Thus concluded the Pope’s “surprise visit” to two health institutions, one for children and another for the dying to leave a clear image of the need to live compassion and to pay attention to the most vulnerable and difficult of situations.
On 12 August, Francis also visited the Roman institution of the Pope John XXIII Community, founded by Oreste Benze, to bring together 20 women freed from the slavery of prostitution.
With material from Aleteia.org, AICA and Religión Digital