Our pilgrimage began with a very early wakeup call this morning to attend 6:45am Mass offered by Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, who had joined the women of WINE yesterday afternoon at the Hotel Cenacolo (the Cenacle). He celebrated his first Mass for us about 7:30 yesterday evening, immediately after our arrival from a full day on the road – driving to and then visiting Siena, followed by a mid-afternoon visit to the Banfi winery (hopefully you saw my Facebook Live videos – I did 5 yesterday – no time to write a colum so videos had to suffice).

After a very rapid breakfast (!), we departed for Rome at 7:45 for a special event Msgr. Anthony had prepared for the group this morning with the Sisters of St. Teresa of Calcutta, including the women being blessed by and prayed over with a relic of St. Teresa! I missed that as I had to go to Vatican radio to record my weekly program, “Joan Knows,” but I’ve been promised my own visit and blessing at their house.

I’ll try to post some of the photos I took in Tuscany in coming days. If you know this region of Italy, you know it is a special place in God’s beautiful universe!


Tune in this weekend to Vatican Insider for Part II of my conversation with Cardinal Soane Patita Mafi of Tonga. He was the guest of honor at the October Damien and Marianne Catholic Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, which I also attended. Cardinal Mafi is the fourth Roman Catholic Bishop of Tonga. His first names, by the way, Soane Patita, mean John the Baptist. He was named a cardinal by Pope Francis on February 14, 2015.

Listen as he continues his story about life in Tonga, the Catholic Church in Tonga, his ministry as a bishop and now a cardinal – all that and much more. As I wrote last week, at times his words about the Church are like a beautiful homily – you won’t want to miss a minute!

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:


Pope Francis surpised not a few people Thursday afternoon when he arrived, unannounced, at a small “field hospital” set up in front of St. Peter’s Square to provide medical care for Rome’s poor. He greeted volunteers and poor people waiting to receive care ahead of the 1st World Day of the Poor on Sunday, November 19.

The field hospital was part of the initiatives linked to this world day of the poor, called for by Pope Francis at the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

The Holy See Press Office noted Thursday that the tent hospital is run by the Italian Red Cross and offers free medical visits for the poor and needy throughout the week from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

In a recent story, Vatican Radio noted that on Sunday, parishes in Rome and around the world will mark the first World Day of the Poor, a fruit of the Jubilee of Mercy. The Pontifical Council for the Promotion for the New Evangelization has been tasked with the organization of the initiative called by Pope Francis.

Msgr. Geno Sylva, a council official, told the radio that, “The Holy Father announced this initiative, this occasion, this opportunity for grace during the Jubilee when he reached out to those who are socially marginalized and so this is an opportunity for the Church around the world to not only celebrate and assist and be with those who are poor, but also to change our attitudes about poverty.”

He pointed out that, “this World Day of the Poor is so beautiful because it’s nothing about power, it’s nothing about anything else but reciprocity, giving and receiving. …We are all poor in some way and everyone’s got something to offer, and this day can serve to open our minds and hearts, our attitudes towards the poverty that exists every day of the year.”

He explained that Pope Francis, “continues to focus the attention of the Church on how we respond to poverty institutionally, but also to people individually.”

The World Day of the Poor is being marked not only in Rome, the Pope’s diocese, but also in parishes around the world. For this reason, the Pontifical Council for the Promotion for the New Evangelization has published information on its website in six languages as a pastoral aid for dioceses and parishes worldwide who wish to take part in this initiative

Some of the events organized in Rome include a prayer vigil in the church of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls on Saturday.November 18 at 8pm. Pope Francis will celebrate a Mass Sunday morning, November 19, in which an estimated 4,000 needy people will take part, followed by a lunch in the Paul VI hall.