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A surprise visit

· Pope Francis in the utilities work area of Vatican City ·

A visit that everyone hoped for and no one could have imagined on a normal August morning, when the city seemed empty. An ordinary work day had just begun in the carpentry workshop, the heating and hydraulic plants, the warehouse and the newspaper when the Pope suddenly appeared at the door  with a simple “good day”. He asked the employees about the jobs, the number of co-workers and what they do. Then he shook their hands and the people who couldn't believe their eyes were happily surprised. Upon leaving he wished everyone a good day at work.

This happened on Friday morning, 9 August, to those employed in the utilities work area of Vatican City where, since 1929, L'Osservatore Romano offices are located. Just after 9 am Pope Francis came with Msgr Fabián  Pedacchio Leaniz in a black compact car with an Italian licence plate.

The Pontiff first went to the carpentry workshop, speaking to the men around their work benches who looked at him wide-eyed. Then he went to the nearby smithy and thermal centre where he listened with interest to a story of a worker on the morning shift. He shook the hands of three other workers who came out marvelling from behind large turbines of the plant and then moved on to the hydraulic centre a few steps away.

Immediately surrounded by technicians, Pope Francis shook everyone's hand and responded to “thank yous” with his brimming smile. Even journalists and other employees of L'Osservatore Romano came to the window surprised and applauded, as the Pope waved back.

Then he got into the car of his assistant Sandro Mariotti who drove him back to Santa Marta. It lasted less than 20 minutes; quick but long enough to get to know first hand a barely visible but important corner in the world of the Vatican, which dates back to the first years of Pius XI's pontificate. It was a great surprise for everyone and we have to believe it won't be the last. (M ario Ponzi )




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