Pope Francis set aside his schedule Wednesday to meet briefly with 19 inmates from prisons in Pisa and the island of Pianosa, greeting each one individually and blessing them.
According to ANSA, the secretary for the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, had organized the inmates’ visit to the Vatican and was celebrating Mass for them at the Vatican Grottos when the Pope learned of their arrival and decided to invited them to his residence.
He spent a few minutes greeting them at St. Martha’s Residence, where he lives at the Vatican, before going to St. Peter’s Square for the Wednesday General Audience.
“It was a truly beautiful and moving encounter. The Pope wanted to greet and bless each one of them. He encouraged them, and his gesture was one of great spiritual fatherhood,” Archbishop Baldisseri said.
Inmates said the 15 minute-long visit was “very beautiful and emotional.”
Chaplains from prisons across Italy are taking part in spiritual pilgrimages for inmates to Rome to attend the General Audiences with Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square.