On Friday, March 31, 2017, Pope Francis went to a Center for the blind, continuing the “private” and “impromptu” visits of the “Fridays of Mercy” and of the Holy Year.
That afternoon, the Pope went to the south of Rome to the St. Alessio-Margherita di Savoia regional Center working for the social inclusion of the blind and poor-sighted, explained the Holy See. Blessed Pope Pius IX founded the Center 149 years ago.
The Pontiff met with the guests of the establishment: persons blind from birth or blind due to serious pathologies, or bearers of different handicaps.
Among them, some 50 children who come to the Center for a specific formation that helps them in their daily little gestures, and 37 elderly and adult persons who are permanent residents.
On his arrival, the Pope was received by the Center’s President, Amedeo Piva, and by the Director General, Antonio Organtini – who himself has become blind –, by the staff and by the benevolent.
The Holy Father gave a gift to the Center and he signed the parchment of the Chapel as a souvenir of his visit.
“It was a great surprise and a chance to embrace the Pope. Francis stayed here one hour and a half, and he did not give an address. He greeted and embraced everyone and gave messages to different children and aged persons,” said Amedeo Piva to TV2000.
Piva added that the center’s office knew about it for a day and a half, but the residents, the youngsters and their families were called for a meeting with the director: They had “a great expectation” and then a “great surprise.” Some children asked the Pope if they could wear the Rosary he gave them around their neck. The older ones asked for support to “rediscover serenity.”
One resident offered the Pope her cookbook in braille and the copy of an icon of the Roman church of Santa Maria in Trastevere.
The Pope returned to the Vatican at about 6 p.m