Nineteen prison inmates from Pisa and Pianosa, Italy, were received by Pope Francis on Wednesday morning, 19 February, in the Casa Santa Marta before the General Audience.
The Pope prayed with them and for them, and he blessed them before the image of the Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, which is particularly dear to him, explaining to them the root of his devotion. Then, one by one, he greeted them and listened to their stories. For one in particular, who handed him a personal letter, the Pope spoke about the grace of mercy and pardon.
Pilgrims to Rome, men on a spiritual journey with two chaplains, Fr Roberto Filippini and Fr Luigi Gabriellini, these inmates had attend Mass that morning in the Vatican Grottos at 7:15, celebrated by Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri. Immediately after being informed of their presence, the Pontiff chose to meet them personally, welcoming them to his residence at 9 am for a 45 minute conversation. With them were the Director of Pianosa Pentitentiary, their overseeing magistrates and prison guards and those in charge of their pastoral care.
Archbishop Baldisseri described the encounter as “extremely beautiful and moving”. The Pope, he said, “wished to greet them and bless them one by one. He encouraged them greatly. It was a sign of great fatherhood for a group of people on a spiritual journey”.
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