I have been privileged in my life to have been a lector in many beautiful churches and in different circumstance. The truly special times are always those Sundays in my parish – for years that was Santa Susanna’s here in Rome, now St. Patrick’s –as the parish has always been my spiritual family.

And there are also the unforgettable occasions: doing the second reading at Midnight Christmas Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for Pope John Paul: being a reader at the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica that opened the Great Jubilee Year 2000 under John Paul: doing the first reading at a private Mass in his Santa Marta Chapel for Pope Francis: doing readings at two commemorative Masses for Mother Angelica in St. Peter’s as well as the Vatican parish church of St. Anne: and last but not least, reading twice in the basilica of St. Francis in Assisi (the chapel of his tomb and the upper basilica) during Masses with Bishop Baker of Birmingham, Alabama.

And this morning: A priest known to all of you, Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, especially for his many appearances on EWTN television, celebrates Mass on the First Friday of the month for EWTN employees at the altar of the tomb of Saint John XXIII in St. Peter’s Basilica. John XXIII was the first Pope I ever saw in person, up close and personal, during a Rome visit when I was a junior in college studying in Switzerland. I cherished that day, decades ago, and I cherished being at his side, so to speak, today.

Come join us at 8:45 am if you are Rome on a First Friday!

IN THE VATICAN: It was announced today that Pope Francis will go to Geneva on June 21 to mark the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches. A press conference at the Vatican Friday focused on that anniversary and the papal trip.


Lent is Rome is perhaps a bit more special than other dioceses in the world for one principal reason – the lovely, historical tradition of the 40 Lenten Station Churches. Instead of an interview this week I will bring you a Special dedicated to the history of these churches, where they are and how to participate in a 7 am English-language Mass at one of the churches while you are in Rome.

Stay tuned for that after this news summary and the Q&A (If you have a question, email me at

You will undoubtedly want to tune in to the Q&A as it answers the questions: Can Catholics have destination weddings? Does the Church allow Catholics to be married on a beach?

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: For VI archives:


Today Pope Francis continued his Mercy Friday tradition, surprising mothers, their children, and the staff of “Casa di Leda” in Rome’s EUR district.

By Sr. Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

Pope Francis continues expressing his closeness to those who find themselves living in difficult situations. Today, he visited “Casa di Leda,” home to 5 mothers and their children. His visit was a complete surprise. Pope Francis was accompanied by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Council for Promoting the New Evangelization that organized this initiative.

A surprise visit from Pope Francis

At 4:00 in the afternoon the Pope surprised the 5 mothers (between the ages of 25 and 30), their children and the staff as they were going about their normal afternoon activities. Pope Francis exchanged a word with the mothers and staff on duty, and he played with the children. The children welcomed his gift of large Easter eggs with shouts of joy. They then invited him to have a snack with them. (Vatican photo)

The mothers in turn gave the Pope a gift that is the product of the many simple activities and tasks that they carry out inside the shelter. They also had the chance of telling the Pope about the wonderful opportunity they have of being able to raise their own children, despite their situation.

Casa di Leda Director, Dr. Lillo Di Mauro, told the Pope, “Your Holiness, dear Father, we are the invisible ones.” He then described the effort it took in setting up the structure. There was an awareness of the importance of transforming a space that had contributed to criminal activity, in order to give back to society a project fostering civilization and humanity.

The Holy Father also left gifts for the mothers, including a parchment signed in memory of his visit. His visit lasted about an hour, after which he returned to Santa Marta, in the Vatican.

Casa di Leda: transformation

Located in Rome’s EUR district, and hidden in a beautiful, green residential area, “Casa di Leda” was formerly owned by persons connected to organized crime. Seized by the State, it has been transformed into a haven for women in difficulty.

Casa di Leda: first of its kind

Opened in March 2017, Casa di Leda is run by the non-profit “Cecilia.” At Casa di Leda, mothers detained for minor offenses whose parental rights are still legally recognized can live their period of detention with their children within a family setting. The mothers are accompanied by staff, educators, and volunteers from the volunteer association called “A Roma Insieme” (In Rome Together). Other associations involved in the project are “P.I.D. Emergency Intervention Disagio Società Cooperativa Sociale Onlus” and the “Ain Karim” Association.

The mothers staying in the structure are allowed to drop off and pick up their children from school. They take part in activities that prepare them to hold a job in view of future reintegration into society. This is the first structure of its type in Italy, and perhaps, in the world.