On March 12, the Second Sunday of Lent, Pope Francis visited the parish of Santa Maddalena di Canossa, located in the Ottavia Suburb in the north-western periphery of Rome. It was his 14th visit to the parishes of his diocese.
The Pope’s visit took place in Lent, two days after the conclusion of his Spiritual Exercises. On his arrival, jut before 4:00 p.m., the parishioners received him in the sports field with great affection and the pealing of bells.
He talked with the catechism children who asked him several questions: When did your first encounter with Jesus begin? Are you happy to be Pope or would you have preferred to be the priest of a small parish? Is there something that scares you or makes you fearful? What were the most beautiful moments of your life? We are too much of smartphones and sometimes we listen little to others. How can we resolve this problem?
In the crypt, the Holy Father greeted the elderly and the sick. In the parish theater, he met with spouses who baptized their children in 2016. He also greeted priests and deacons and some Sisters, Daughters of Charity (Cannossians), celebrated Mass, heard the Confession of an adolescent, a youth, and a man and a woman. The Mass, over which he presided, was concelebrated with the priests of the parish and the Vicariate.
In his homily, the Pontiff commented on the Gospel of the day and highlighted the transfigured, “luminous and brilliant” face of Jesus, but also His face of sorrow on the cross: awful, disfigured, tortured, scorned, bloodied by the crown of thorns … Jesus’ whole body was like something to be discarded.”
The Holy Father went on to say: “How awful it is” to speak of others’ sins. And he invited to look at one’s own sins, because “this is the path to Easter.”
Pope Francis invited to gaze on the Savior’s face in those two moments — of transfiguration and of sorrow, which “encourage us to go forward in the path of Christian life,” and to “ask for forgiveness for our sins and not sin so much. He encouraged especially to trust in Him, because if He was made sin it is because He took ours upon Himself. He is always ready to forgive us,” reiterated the Pope, specifying: “we only have to ask for it,” because “He paid for us and He did so out of love.”
The parish has several groups engaged in activities, such as “Missions,” with the Canossian project “Friendly House” in Brazil. In this urban periphery of Rome. Caritas carries out important work, especially with young people and individuals who have lost their job, distributing food twice a month.