Today is a major holiday in Italy known as Festa della Liberazione or Liberation Day. How and why do Italians celebrate April 25: Italy marks Liberation Day with holiday on 25 April – Wanted in Rome

A holiday throughout Italy – and you had to be here to see the tourists on this long, holiday weekend! – but it was a regular work day in the Vatican, as you will see.

Among the hundreds of Missionaries of Mercy in town for their third international meeting since Pope Francis instituted these Missionaries for the 2016 Jubilee Year of Mercy is EWTN’s own Father John Paul. He is also in the Eternal City for a period to tend to the Rome-based flock of EWTN, to hear confessions, to offer daily masses and to just be with us for several weeks. It is always a joy to be with this humble, happy priest, whatever side of the pond we’re on.

Michael Warsaw, Chairman of the Board and CEO of EWTN, is also in Rome this week for a number of events, EWTN-related and not. I’ll be seeing both Fr. John Paul and Michael in coming days and if these pages show a Joan’s Rome lite, it means time is not being very generous to me in a week marked by the arrival of perhaps a dozen friends, luncheons, dinners, interviews, etc. Today was such a day.

Here is the Vatican story of Pope Francis’ encounter with the Missionaries of Mercy this morning:


Pope Francis welcomed Missionaries of Mercy from around the world, and encouraged them to receive warmly those seeking God’s mercy and to offer consolation to the sad and lonely, offering the biblical figure Ruth as an inspiration for their ministry.

By Thaddeus Jones (vaticannews)

Welcoming the Missionaries of Mercy from around the world in the Paul VI Audience Hall on Monday, Pope Francis explained how he wanted to bring them back to Rome as a way to renew their ministry of being instruments of God’s mercy.

Saying their ministry is the one closest to his heart, the Pope recalled that he even had their fundamental role included in the new Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, “Praedicate Evangelium,” under the section focusing on evangelization.

He said they are now part of the structure of the Church, and hopefully will grow in number as bishops identify priests “who are holy, merciful, ready for forgiveness, in order to become full-fledged missionaries of Mercy.”

Pope Francis instituted the role of the Missionaries of Mercy six years ago when he met them in Rome during the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016 to give them their mandate to witness around the world the closeness of God and His love, mercy and forgiveness.

The Missionaries of Mercy offer a special ministry of outreach, hearing confessions and finding new ways to proclaim, express and bring God’s mercy to all. They also have special faculties to give absolution to serious sins that ordinarily would require consultation and permission from the local bishop or the Holy See.

The testimony of Ruth

Pointing to previous meetings with the Missionaries of Mercy, the Pope recalled how he encouraged them to bring God’s mercy and be a sign of His consolation so that they know God never forgets or abandons us.

On this occasion, he reflected on the biblical figure of Ruth, who can inspire them in their ministry. The Book of Ruth in the Old Testament tells the story of a Moabite woman committed to the people of Israel through an oath to her mother-in-law Naomi. Both were widows living in extreme poverty.

The Pope spoke about Ruth’s very difficult life, suffering as a poor widow and foreigner, but despite it all offering heroic love, loyalty, generosity and mercy in her service to Naomi and others. She became the great-grandmother of David through her later marriage to Boaz of Bethlehem, and so a full part of the people of ancient Israel.

God communicates through Ruth

Pope Francis observed how, in the Book of Ruth, God never speaks directly, but He communicates through Ruth’s every gesture of kindness towards her mother-in-law Noemi.

While the path of life is often difficult and full of sadness at times, God sets out on his path to reveal His love, the Pope explained, saying we too are invited to discern the presence of God in people’s lives.

And as Missionaries of Mercy, “it is up to us, through our ministry, to give voice to God and show the face of His mercy.” He added that God works in people’s daily lives often through silent, discreet and simple ways manifested through those who become a sacrament of God’s presence.

Forgiveness in your pocket

The Pope appealed to the Missionaries of Mercy to avoid every form of judgement when receiving those coming to them and to always strive to understand the person fully, not just partially.

We are all sinners, he noted, and we all fall on our knees to ask for forgiveness, the Pope pointed out. And departing from this prepared text, he encouraged them not to get bogged down in what the rules say, but to look at the person asking for forgiveness and to be generous with that forgiveness “in your pocket,” as priests and Missionaries of Mercy.

He called them to “look into the heart of a person, where the desire is hidden, and the longing to return to the Father and to his house.” He added for emphasis, “always, always forgive!”

Mercy and consolation

In conclusion, Pope Francis encouraged the Missionaries of Mercy to always be ready to show God’s mercy, like having a blanket always ready to warm those who seek to come in from the cold and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness.

He called on them to be generous like Ruth, to draw near with consolation to those who are sad and lonely, adding that in this way the Lord will recognize them as His faithful ministers.

The Pope added two stories off-the-cuff about two great confessors he remembered from his experience back home in Argentina. He spoke about how they heard confessions all day long until the last years of their lives as examples of showing God’s boundless mercy in the confessional.

He encouraged the Missionaries of Mercy to do the same – to never tire of forgiving, “because the Lord never tires of forgiving us, never!”


I saw this truly stunning video a few days ago and wanted to share it with you! Rome, then and now! Enjoy it over the weekend!


My guest this weekend on Vatican Insider is Alan Holdren, a real Vatican insider who produces “Vaticano” for EWTN and also is the bureau chief for News Nightly. You saw him on the news during the days he was in Mexico with Pope Francis and that is exactly what he will tell us about this week on VI, in Part II of our conversation about the papal trip. We look at highlights of the trip, some special moments for both the Pope and Alan, and talk about a lot of behind the scenes – or on the scene! – stories.

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives:


(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday addressed the participants of a course on the internal forum organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary, calling them to become ‘channels of mercy’.

The yearly week-long course prepares new priests and seminarians for the correct administration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and traditionally concludes in an audience with the Holy Father.

In remarks prepared for the occasion, Pope Francis reminded the priests and seminarians of the importance of “an adequate and updated preparation” for confessors, “so that all who come to confess their sins may ‘touch the grandeur of God’s mercy with their own hands, the source of true inner peace’ (Bull, Misericordiae Vultus, 17)”.

“Mercy,” the Holy Father said, “before being an attitude or human virtue, is a unfailing choice by God in favor of every human being for their eternal salvation, a choice sealed with the blood of the Son of God.”

Pope Francis went on to remind the young priests and seminarians that the door of divine mercy are always wide open. “The mercy of the Father can reach every person in many ways: through the openness of a sincere conscience; by reading the Word of God which converts hearts; through an encounter with a merciful sister or brother; in the experiences of a life lived with wounds, sins, forgiveness, and mercy.”

Of these ways which God’s mercy can reach us, the Pope said the most certain of all is Jesus himself, “who has the power on earth to forgive sins (Luke 5,24) and has entrusted this mission to the Church (John 20,21-23). The Sacrament of Reconciliation is therefore the privileged place to experience the mercy of God.”

For this reason, the Holy Father said, “it is important that the confessor also be a ‘channel of joy’ and that the penitent faithful, after having received absolution, not feel the weight of his or her sins. They need to taste the work of God which freed them, live in thanksgiving, and be ready to repair the damage of their sins, going out to their brothers and sisters with an open and welcoming heart.”


On this day in 1963, Pope St. John XXIII died of stomach cancer, four and a half years after his election. His tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica:



At today’s general audience, Pope Francis said that, in continuing the series of catecheses on the family that he started many months ago, he intended to focus, starting today, on the vulnerabilities that families face in today’s world.

He began by explaining that, “today we consider one of the conditions that afflict too many families, namely, poverty. And yet, in the worst of circumstances, even in wartorn areas, how often these families persevere with dignity, entrusting themselves to the goodness of God. It is a miracle that even in extreme situations families continue to be formed and sustained.”

“Sadly,” said the Holy Father, “our modern economies often promote individual well-being at the expense of the family. As Christians, however, we must always look for ways to strengthen and support families, especially poorer ones.  The Church, as a mother, can never be blind to the sufferings of her children.  For each of us, this means choosing simplicity both individually and in our institutions, so as to break down walls of division and overcome all difficulties, especially poverty.”

As he has said on previous ocasions, including at the very start of his pontificate in March 2013,  Francis said, “a poorer Church will bear fruit for so many of her needy children.  Let us pray for the grace of conversion so that Christian families everywhere will be truly committed to helping their poorer brothers and sisters.”


At the end of the weekly general audience, held today under a hot sun in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the Chinese people following the capsizing Monday of a cruise ship on the Yangtze River. He spoke of the victims, their families and the rescue workers involved with the search for survivors from “The Eastern Star,” whose 456 passengers were mostly elderly people. At least 18 people are now confirmed to have died and 14 have been rescued.

“In a particular way I wish to express my closeness to the Chinese people in these difficult moments after the ferry disaster in the Yangtze River.  pray for the victims, their families and for all involved in the rescue efforts” he said.

In his greetings to the many pilgrims groups and associations following the audience catechesis, Pope Francis explained that June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and that tomorrow, Thursday, is the Feast of Corpus Christi. “We learn from the Lord, who made Himself into sustenance so as to be more available to others, serving all those in need, especially the poorest families.”

To commemorate the feast of Corpus Christi, the Holy Father will say Mass at St. John Lateran, his cathedral church as bishop of Rome, ater which he will process on Via Merulana with the Blessed Sacrament from St. John to St. Mary Major where he will impart a Eucharistic blessing.


Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin spoke this morning in Paris at the conference “Educating Today and Tomorrow,” organized by the Holy See Permanent Observer Mission at UNESCO and the Congregation for Catholic Education. The conference is celebrating 70 years since the founding of this United Nations body, the 50th anniversary of the conciliar declaration “Gravissimum educationis,” a key text for Catholic education, and 25 years since the Apostolic Constitution “Ex corde Ecclesiae,” a document of reference for Catholic universities.

His text focused on the four main educational challenges and perspectives in today’s “fragmentary and multi-ethnic” world, namely, putting humanity back at the center; comprehensive and quality education; education as shared responsibility; and education in dialogue and fraternity.

Cardinal Parolin stated that, “the Catholic Church has never viewed education and culture as mere instruments of evangelization, but rather as human dimensions with high intrinsic value.” Indeed, investing in the education of young generations is a precondition for the “development of peoples,” as Paul VI stated in “Populorum progressio.” This is why the Catholic Church “has put education at the centre of her mission and continues to view it as a priority.”

He also underlined the importance attributed to this theme by Vatican Council II, in which a full and complete education is proposed, aimed at laying the foundations for an inclusive and peaceful society open to dialogue.Tye cardinal then mentioned some current educational challenges and perspectives, such as the extreme fragmentation of knowledge and the worrying lack of communication between different disciplines.

Importantly, the Secretary of State underscored the need to counteract the concept of the human being as a machine for production, proposing instead a vision of the person, and reiterated the need for formation in dialogue and the construction of fraternity. (sources: VIS, SIR)


Il Mattino di Padova, in its online news edition, reports that Pope Francis has decided to bring the bodies of two beloved Capuchin confessors, Saints Padre Pio and Leopoldo Mandic, to Rome during the Jubilee of Mercy to highlight the importance of the ministry of a confessor.


The paper says that the exposition of their bodies will probably be one of themost anticipated events and biggest highlights of the entire Holy Year.

Il Mattino says that, while each of the two Franciscan confessors had long, nonstop lines of penitents before their confessionals, those lines will probably pale in comparison to the lines that will form to enter St. Peter’s Basilica on February 10, 2016, Ash Wednesday, the day the exposition begins. The paper quotes Pope Francis who, last year as he blessed a wood statue of Padre Pio, brought to Rome by the friars of San Giovanni Rotondo, said: “Padre Pio, we are now closer. I am blessing you but you, protect me.”


St. Leopoldo Mandic was a famous Capuchin confessor who died in 1942 in Padua. After his death, he performed numerous and well-documented apparitions that strengthened his fame as a saint and the conviction that, through his intercession, one could obtain graces and miracles.



At the Capuchin church in Padua, as happens at San Giovanni Rotondo, there is an uninterrupted flow of pilgrims who ask for graces and conversion. Over the years, there have been thousands of votive offerings – “PGR – for graces received”  – relative to prodigious and inexplicable healings. Pope Paul VI beatified Leopoldo on May 2, 1976 and St. John Paul canonized him on October 16, 1983.