Great was the surprise of a group of families of the “Stella Maris” parish of Ostia, when this afternoon they saw Pope Francis appear instead of their parish priest, Father Plinio Poncina, for the usual Easter blessing, stated a Holy See press release published on Friday, May 19, 2017.
Making himself “parish priest,” the Pontiff spent time “with great simplicity” with the tenants and blessed a dozen apartments, reads the Vatican communique. Pope Francis also joked with the families, not only apologizing for the disturbance caused, but also assuring them of his having respected the time of silence to be observed in the condominiums after lunch.
With his surprise gesture, the Pontiff wished to follow up on the “Fridays of Mercy,” recalls the press release. In the span of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis, in fact, carried out once a month, always on Fridays, private visits to structures or groups of persons in situations of physical or social exclusion, among which were a rest home for the sick in vegetative states, a community for the mentally disabled, a small group of married priests and also the neonatology section of the “Saint John” Hospital of Rome.
On Friday, March 31, the Pope went on a visit to the St. Alessio – Margherita di Savoia Regional Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.