Sunday afternoon, March 12, 2017, the Second Sunday of Lent, the Holy Father Francis went on a pastoral visit to the parish of Santa Maddalena di Canossa, in the Ottavia suburb of Rome.
Upon his arrival, around 3:50 p.m., the Pope met with children and catechism youngsters in the parish sports field. Then, the Holy Father greeted the elderly and the sick in the crypt and, in the parish theater, he met with spouses who baptized their children in 2016. In addition, he greeted briefly the ministers, the priests of the 36th Prefecture, which belongs to the parish, and some Sisters Daughters of Charity (Canossians), accompanied by their Superior General. Finally, the Holy Father heard the confession of some penitents.
At 6:00 p.m., he presided over the Holy Mass in the parish church. After the proclamation of the Gospel, the Pope gave an off-the-cuff homily. At the end of the visit, the Holy Father returned to the Vatican around 7:45 p.m.
Here is a Zenit working translation of the spontaneous words the Pontiff spoke when meeting with newborns and their parents at the parish:
Greeting to Newborns Baptized in the Last Year
I thank you so much for being here: it’s tiring to be standing, with the children . . . Thank you so much, thank you so much! I ask you to pray for me, I need it, and I will pray for you, so that these children grow up well and are persons of goodness. Thank you for bearing life: this is great! It makes you so much like God, to bear life: it is this that He brings.
Now I invite you to pray to Our Lady and then I will give the blessing to families. “Hail Mary . . .
Thank you so much! Pray for me, and forward![Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
Final Greeting Outside the Church
Good evening to all! Thank you so much for your warm reception. I see that you are a lively community, which moves, and this pleases me. Go forward with joy, always, without being discouraged. Go forward always, with joy. I ask you to pray for me: I need it, because I must do the work well, not “more or less,” and to do it well, your prayer is necessary And now, I invite you to pray to Our Lady all together, and I will give you the blessing: “Hail Mary . . .[Blessing]
Good evening to all, may the Lord bless you! Good-bye![Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]