Pope Francis spotted visiting Rome optometrist

Pope Francis general audience Pope Francis gives a blessing to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square during his general audience on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. | Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis was spotted visiting his optometrist near the Spanish Steps on Monday afternoon.

According to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, the pope went to the eyewear store of Alessandro Spiezia to change out the lenses of his glasses after noting he was having difficulty reading his homily at a Mass over the weekend.

“I apologize for reading like this, but the sun moves everything for me,” Francis said in the northern Italian city of Trieste on July 7.

Photos of Francis’ approximately half-hour stop at the optometrist showed him surrounded by a crowd of lucky bystanders, who happened to catch sight of the pontiff during one of his rare secret excursions outside the Vatican walls.

After being driven up to the shop in his white Fiat 500, the pope had his vision tested and bought new lenses with the correct prescription but asked to keep the glasses frames he already had, Il Messaggero reported.

He also visited the same optometrist, located just a few steps from Piazza del Popolo in Rome’s historic center, in 2015. At the time, the pope needed to repair an arm of his eyeglasses.

According to Il Messaggero, Spiezia and his family, including son, Luca, and wife, Annamaria, have become friends of the pope over the years of his pontificate — even visiting him with other optometrists at his Santa Marta residence every year on the Dec. 13 feast of St. Lucy, a patron saint of the blind.

Pope Francis frequently wears glasses, especially when reading speeches, and had eye surgery for cataracts in 2019.

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