Pope Francis received a group of prisoners at his residence in the Vatican yesterday.
The Holy Father asked to greet the nineteen inmates from the Italian cities of Pisa and Pianosa in the Casa Santa Marta shortly before his weekly general audience.
According to L’Osservatore Romano, the Pope “prayed with them and for them, and he blessed them before the image of the Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, which is particularly dear to him, explaining to them the root of his devotion.”
He then greeted each of them and listened to their stories in a meeting lasting 45 minutes. For one in particular, who handed him a personal letter, the Pope spoke about the grace of mercy and pardon.
The inmates, taking part in a pilgrimage to Rome, were accompanied by two prison chaplains, Fr Roberto Filippini and Fr Luigi Gabriellini. They had attended Mass that morning in the Vatican Grottos at 7:15.
Immediately after being informed of their presence, the Holy Father chose to meet them personally, welcoming them to his residence at 9 am.
Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, who celebrated Mass for them in the basilica, described the encounter as “extremely beautiful and moving”. The Pope, he said, “wished to greet them and bless them one by one. He encouraged them greatly. It was a sign of great fatherhood for a group of people on a spiritual journey”.