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Sisters and prisons

Bars, walls, locks, chains. Men, women and even children, guilty prisoners, innocent prisoners, illegal immigrants, inmates on death row, prison camps from the past and from today; a form of martyrdom. 

Together, holding hands and listening in prayer and embracing, the nuns who take care of the prisoners have found a practical way to soothe many wounds, because - as Pope Francis recently pointed out (while accepting the gift of a bag, hand-made for him by the inmates of the Roman prison of Rebibbia) - "no cell is so isolated as to exclude the Lord, none." To enter the prisons to be truly close to those who are locked in requires a great capacity to empathize as time, sounds, colours, priorities, everything changes behind bars. Where the worst result is the loss of hope. It is not just that a heart is broken, but that it turns to stone. This issue is dedicated to the relationship between nuns and inmates. To the nuns who enter to be close to the inmates but also to the nuns for whom the effect of incarceration has left an indelible mark on them personally. Because in both of these cases, the religious have proven their ablity to experience these moments with an authentic understanding of their mission both as women and as Christians. For this issue, Isabella Ducrot – who has a passion for roses which she has cultivated for years with attention and love - has cultivated a specific variety of this flower. They are bushes made of small, perfectly milk white pompoms here and there with ruby red buds peeping out amongst the small, neat, dark evergreens leaves. These roses are called Félicité et Perpétue, and are named after two young women who were martyred under Septimius Severus. And with their passing they have left us a text of passion, dignity and courage. Of faith, of prison and of femininity. (g.g.)

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St. Peter’s Square

Oct. 21, 2019

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