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Current Issue
December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
19 May 2017
Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service




Pope Francis greets a resident as he arrives to give an Easter blessing to a home in a public housing complex in Ostia, a Rome suburb on the Mediterranean Sea, 19 May. Continuing his Mercy Friday visits, the pope blessed a dozen homes in Ostia.
(photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)


Like parish priests throughout Italy do during the Easter season, Pope Francis spent an afternoon 19 May going door to door and blessing homes.

Continuing the “Mercy Friday” visits he began during the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis chose a public housing complex in Ostia, a Rome suburb on the Mediterranean Sea.

The Vatican press office said Father Plinio Poncina, pastor of Stella Maris parish, put up signs 17 May announcing a priest would be visiting the neighborhood to bless houses. The signs, which indicate a date and give a time frame, are a common site in Italy in the weeks before and after Easter.

“It was a great surprise today when, instead of the pastor, the one ringing the door bells was Pope Francis,” the press office said. “With great simplicity, he interacted with the families, he blessed a dozen apartments” and left rosaries for the residents.

“Joking, he apologized for disturbing people, however he reassured them that he had respected the hour of silence for a nap after lunch in accordance with the sign posted at the entrance to the building,” the press office said.

The pope’s Friday visits to hospitals and hospices, homes for children, rehab centers and other places of care were planned for the Year of Mercy as tangible ways for the pope to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Although the Year of Mercy ended in November, the pope restarted making Mercy Friday visits in March when he visited a home and educational center for the blind and visually impaired.

Pope Francis gives an Easter blessing to a home in a public housing complex in Ostia, a Rome suburb on the Mediterranean Sea. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)