Pope goes door to door, blessing the homes of the poor

IMAGE: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Like parish priests throughout Italy
do during the Easter season, Pope Francis spent an afternoon May 19 going door
to door and blessing homes.

Continuing the “Mercy Friday” visits he began
during the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis chose a public housing complex in Ostia,
a Rome suburb on the Mediterranean Sea.

The Vatican press office said Father Plinio Poncina, pastor
of Stella Maris parish, put up signs May 17 announcing a priest would be
visiting the neighborhood to bless houses. The signs, which indicate a date and
give a time frame, are a common site in Italy in the weeks before and after

“It was a great surprise today when, instead of the
pastor, the one ringing the door bells was Pope Francis,” the press office
said. “With great simplicity, he interacted with the families, he blessed
a dozen apartments” and left rosaries for the residents.

“Joking, he apologized for disturbing people, however
he reassured them that he had respected the hour of silence for a nap after lunch
in accordance with the sign posted at the entrance to the building,” the
press office said.

The pope’s Friday visits to hospitals and hospices, homes
for children, rehab centers and other places of care were planned for the Year
of Mercy as tangible ways for the pope to practice the corporal and spiritual
works of mercy.

Although the Year of Mercy ended in November, the pope restarted
making Mercy Friday visits in March when he visited a home and educational
center for the blind and visually impaired.

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