VATICAN CITY, MAR. 14, 2001 ( John Paul II imparted his blessing this morning to a regiment composed of the first women soldiers in Italian history to do voluntary military service.

At the end of the general audience, the Pope greeted the women of the 235th "Piceno" Infantry Regiment, quartered in Ascoli Piceno, and exhorted them to offer "a consistent witness of Christian life."

Eastern Patriarch to Visit Southern Italy

ROSSANO, Italy, MAR. 14, 2001 ( Bartholomew I, patriarch of Constantinople, will visit the Italian region of Calabria from March 19-23, before attending the 4th Regional Assembly of Sicilian Catholic Churches, to be held in Acireale. Among other things, the patriarch will take part in an ecumenical prayer.