Mercy Friday: Pope surprises students rehearsing after school

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Continuing his occasional series of
“Mercy Friday” visits, Pope Francis surprised the students at a
school renamed in March in honor of a student who died of leukemia at the age
of 11.

For the visit May 25 to the Elisa Scala Comprehensive
School, which includes students from the age of 3 to 14, the pope also brought
books for the school library. The Vatican did not provide the titles of the
books or give any other details about them.

Before the city of Rome and the Italian department of
education allowed the whole school to be named after Elisa, the library was.
Her parents, Giorgio and Maria, said their daughter loved to read and, after she
died in 2015, they started the library, which now holds more than 20,000
volumes, all of which were donated.

The couple gave the pope a guided tour of the shelves.

Pope Francis arrived at the school after classes had ended
for the day. But more than 200 students were there preparing for a year-end show
featuring dance, sport and theater. After five months of rehearsals, they sang
for the pope.

The pope began the “Mercy Friday” initiative
during the Holy Year of Mercy in 2015-16 to highlight the corporal and
spiritual works of mercy. Among other places, the visits have taken him to
hospitals and rehabilitation centers, a group home for children, a L’Arche Community,
a halfway house for women inmates with small children and a home for women
rescued from forced prostitution.

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