Santiago, Chile, Jan 13, 2018 / 04:00 am
As Pope Francis prepares to visit Chile next week, the inmates at San Joaquin Women's Penitentiary Center in Santiago are cleaning, decorating, and preparing for what they believe is a providential papal visit.
The Pope will visit the prison on Jan. 16, making a 40-minute stop to meet with the women there.
Ever since the Holy Father's visit was confirmed, the 620 women incarcerated in the prison – serving sentences for drug trafficking, homicide, robbery or other crimes – have been planning for the encounter.
“People are suffering here, there's a lot of pain, and that the Pope would come and remember us means that God has remembered us,” said inmate Nelly Dominguez. “I believe it's the providence of God, nothing less.”
Dominguez is serving a 15-year sentence for drug trafficking. “For me, this visit is a before-and-after,” she told ACI Prensa. “Not just in my life but in the lives of all the people here.”
“I am in the process of changing, I'm working on my spiritual life, I intend to change,” she said.
“I think good things are coming for Chile,” she added, describing the Pope's upcoming visit as “a very great blessing from God.”
Dominguez and the prison's other inmates are making the paper decorations for the garlands that will decorate the gymnasium where the Pope will meet with the prisoners. They are constructing 7,000 paper doves and 5,000 flowers.