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Pope Francis makes surprise visit to 200 children in Rome parish

Pope Francis meets with a group of children on April 11, 2024 as part of School of Prayer initiative for the 2024 Year of Prayer

Vatican Media

I.Media - published on 04/11/24

As part of the 2024 Year of Prayer in preparation for the 2025 Jubilee, Pope Francis visited 200 children in a parish on the outskirts of Rome.

Pope Francis made a surprise visit to a parish on the outskirts of Rome to meet 200 children who are part of the catechism groups, the Holy See Press Office announced on April 11, 2024. The outing is something the Pope wanted to do as part of the 2024 Year of Prayer leading up to the 2025 Jubilee in Rome. 

The 87-year-old Pope visited the parish of St. John Mary Vianney in the Borghesiana neighborhood, around 20 kilometers (around 12 miles) from the Vatican, in the afternoon. The children, who are preparing for their First Communion, “joyfully welcomed the Pope, who arrived in the community by surprise,” said a press release that the Holy See sent out in the early evening. 

Pope Francis meets with a group of children on April 11, 2024 as part of School of Prayer initiative for the 2024 Year of Prayer

This visit is the Pontiff’s first appointment of a “School of Prayer” initiative. The Jubilee is expected to bring more than 30 million pilgrims to Rome.

In January Jubilee organizers said a School of Prayer initiative would be similar to the “Fridays of Mercy” that Francis did during the 2016 Jubilee of Mercy. As part of this initiative the Pope visited, often by surprise, different places around Rome.

Catechism lesson from the Pope

For almost an hour, the Pope gave the children a catechism lesson and answered their questions. He insisted on the importance for a Christian to say “thank you,” “please,” and “sorry.”

In images posted on social media by a journalist from Vatican News — the official media outlet of the Holy See and the only one authorized to attend and cover the event — Pope Francis appeared smiling.

“I brought rosaries and Easter eggs, what do you want? Rosaries or Easter eggs?” he asked them. 

“Do you pray? How do you pray? What can you say to the Lord?” The Pope asked the children. One child answered that he prayed with his family before meals. Another young girl, Alice, 10-years-old, asked the Pope how she can “thank the Lord while being sick?” 

The Pope told her “even in dark times, we should thank the Lord, because He gives us the patience to tolerate difficulties. Let us say together: Thank you Lord for giving us the strength to tolerate pain.”

At the end of the meeting, the Pope and the children recited together a “thanksgiving prayer,” created especially for this occasion, the Holy See’s statement said.  

The Bishop of Rome visiting his diocese

To the priests and around 20 catechists present, the Holy Father offered the first of six small volumes in the “Notes on Prayer” series. These books were designed by the Dicastery for Evangelization, in charge of organizing the Jubilee in order to guide people in this year of prayer and prepare for 2025. 

Elected in 2013, the Argentine Pope has often visited places in his diocese, as he is the Bishop of Rome. During the 2016 Jubilee, he regularly made surprise visits to places representing  the “human peripheries.”

Last week, he visited the northeast of the city to talk to 35 priests.

Tags:
2024 Year of PrayerJubilee 2025Pope FrancisRome
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