Pope Francis surprises children at Rome’s “SOS Village”

Pope makes another “Friday of Mercy” surprise visit

Pope Francis surprises children at Rome’s “SOS Village”

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Friday visited children in Rome’s “SOS Village,” a residential complex that cares for children coming from difficult personal, family or social backgrounds. His surprise visit there was part of his “Friday of Mercy” initiatives that have seen him perform a concrete gesture of mercy on one Friday every month during this Jubilee Year.

During his visit to the center, the Pope was given a tour of the grounds that include a small soccer field and a playground. The children living there also showed him their rooms and their toys and he listened to them talking about their personal stories. Before returning to the Vatican, Pope Francis also had an afternoon snack with the children.

Situated in north west Rome, the SOS Village is made up of 5 lodgings in which a maximum of up to six children below the age of 12 live together with a supervisor known as an SOS Mother. The children living in the center are cared for and supported in the same way as a real family would do. They are taken to school, they go to the local parish and they practice sporting activities. All the staff who work in the center care for the children for a number of years so as to create a stable relationship with them and help them acquire more autonomy as they grow older.