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VATICAN CITY — On Friday afternoon Pope Francis visited 33 elderly people at the the Bruno Buozzi nursing home on the outskirts of Rome. He then travelled to the Casa Iride, which provides care for seven people in a persistent vegetative state, as well as assistance for their families.
The surprise visit is part of the “Fridays of Mercy” initiative and was announced on the official Jubilee of Mercy twitter feed. Photos showed the Holy Father greeting about 30 residents in the nursing home and then talking with them while sharing a drink.
The official website of the Jubilee of Mercy said, “This improvised visit took everyone by surprise and helped people understand the importance of the words spoken by Pope Francis against a ‘throwaway culture,’ and the great value the elderly and grandparents have in the Church and society.”
The second facility housed seven patients in a vegetative state. The statement said this gesture by Pope Francis “demonstrates the great value of human life, and the dignity with which it must always be respected.” The Holy Father was accompanied by the president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, Archbishop Rino Fisichella.
The archbishop had announced last year Pope Francis would, on one Friday every month, make a gesture linked to the works of mercy. On December 18, the first “Friday of Mercy,” the Holy Father opened the Holy Door established at the Caritas hostel located near Rome’s Termini train station.