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 elderly and sick while meeting with groups at the parish:
Greeting to the Elderly and the Sick
I thank you for being here; I promise to pray for you. And I also want to say to you simply that sickness is a cross – you know it – but the cross is a seed of life, and by bearing it well one can give so much life to so many people that we don’t know; and then, in Heaven, we will know them. I thank you for bearing your sickness like this.
I am close to you and I ask you to pray for me, that the Lord may give me a spiritual life, that He may make me good, that He may make me a good priest for the service of others. I entrust myself to your prayers.
And now, we pray together to Our Lady: “Hail Mary . . .”
See you soon, and pray for me. May the Lord bless you! Thank you![Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]