Happy Birthday, Pope Francis!


Like millions of people who are getting ready for the birth of our Savior, the Vatican is putting the finishing touches on Christmas preparations. We’ve seen that the amazing Jesolo sand nativity scene and the tall, elegant fir tree are up and yet another Vatican Christmas tradition – Bambinelli Sunday – took place yesterday at the Angelus. The Third Sunday of Advent for many years has been the day when the children of Rome bring the Baby Jesus statues – the bambinelli – from their Nativity scenes to St. Peter’s Square to be blessed by the Pope during the Angelus.

The Holy Father told the children, “when you gather in your homes in prayer before the manger, looking at the Child Jesus, you will feel amazement at the great mystery of God made man; and the Holy Spirit will give your heart the humility, tenderness and goodness of Jesus. This is the true Christmas! May this be so for you and for your families.”

A cold snap and some strong winds – the so-called tramonta from across the Apennines – have dominated Rome for days but an estimated 25,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for this festive occasion.

Earlier Sunday morning in the Paul VI Hall, Francis met with the staff and little patients of the Santa Marta Pediatric Dispensary – perhaps one of the best-kept secrets of the Vatican! Established in 1922 by Pope Pius XI, the dispensary occupies several floors of a building at the Perugino entrance to Vatican City and is about 100 feet from the Santa Marta residence where Pope Francis lives! Also present Sunday morning were friends and family members of the dispensary’s young patients.

As a surprise, and in anticipation of Pope Francis’ 82nd birthday on Monday, the children and staff of the Santa Marta presented him with a big birthday cake. (The following link to a Vatican news report in Italian has some good video of that Santa Marta event and the Pope’s speech:

Pope Francis said he often “wondered if the Child Jesus ever had the flu or perhaps a cold. If so, what did his mother do? I am not sure there was a dispensary in Nazareth or in Egypt, but I certainly know that if the Madonna had lived in Rome she would have taken him to this dispensary, surely. I thank all of you, who are the structure and life of the Dispensary, the doctors, the collaborators, the nurses …; and also the collaboration of the boys, the fathers and the mothers of the children. It is seen in the spontaneity of children. Working with children is not easy, but it teaches us so much. It teaches me one thing: that to understand the reality of life, we must lower ourselves, as we lower ourselves to kiss a child. They teach us this. The proud, the proud can not understand life, because they can not lower themselves.”


By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (vaticannews)

Pope Francis Monday received in audience members of the International Commission against the Death Penalty. In prepared remarks that were given to members of the Commission, Pope Francis begged countries still applying the death penalty to “adopt a moratorium”.

Every life is sacred

Since the beginning of his ministry, Pope Francis told commission members, the truth that “every life is sacred” had convinced him to commit himself to abolishing the death penalty at the international level. This commitment became concrete, the Pope said, with the recent change of paragraph 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He said Church teaching now reflects “the doctrine of the latest Pontiffs as well as the change in the conscience of Christians who reject a penalty that seriously harms human dignity.”

Pope Francis reiterated that the doctrine accepting the death penalty came from a “period that was more legalistic than Christian” which “ignored the primacy of mercy over justice”. The Pope affirmed the Church’s current teaching that “in the light of the Gospel, the death penalty is always inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”.

Moral rehabilitation

At the same time, an ongoing prison sentence that does not allow the moral rehabilitation of the person and his or her reinsertion into the community is a “hidden death”, Pope Francis said. No one can be deprived either of life, or the hope of “redemption and reconciliation”, he said.

Obligation of nations

The Church’s commitment to opposing the death penalty needs to be equalled by the international community, Pope Francis continued. The sovereign right of nations to determine their legal systems cannot be in contradiction with international law or “the universal recognition of human dignity, the Pope said. He also praised the UN’s resolution encouraging that member nations “suspend the application of the death penalty”.

Direct appeal to nations

Pope Francis then made a direct appeal to countries that have not yet abolished the death penalty. To those countries where the death penalty is legal but not applied, he asked that they continue applying the moratorium not only by not carrying out death sentences, but by not imposing death sentences in the first place. “The moratorium”, he said, “cannot be lived by the person condemned to death as a mere prolongation” of the time until the execution of the sentence. To the countries still applying the death penalty, the Pope begged them to “ adopt a moratorium in view of abolishing this cruel form of punishment.”

Ethic of caring

Society has developed its penal culture around the concept of injury caused to another or to their rights. “Less attention has been paid to the omission of doing good to others”, the Pope said. The traditional approach to justice “must be complemented with an ethic of caring”. Such an ethic would consider “causes of behaviour, the social context, the situation of vulnerable offenders of the law, and the suffering of the victims”. Reasoning in this way is guided by divine mercy and takes each specific case into account. In the end, “we need a style of justice that besides being a father, is also a mother”. This ethic of reciprocal care for one another is the basis for a loving society in which people are committed to the common good, Pope Francis said.

Commitment to abolition of death penalty

Returning to the theme of the abolition of the death penalty, Pope Francis’ prepared remarks concluded with a declaration that both the Church and the Holy See desire “to collaborate with the International Commission against the Death Penalty in building the necessary consensus to eradicate capital punishment and every form of cruel punishment. “It is a cause”, he said, “that all men and women of good will are called to and it is a duty for those of us who share the Christian vocation of Baptism”.


The following statement was released this morning by Holy See Press Office Director Greg Burke:

“The seventh meeting of the Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working Group will be held in Ha Noi on December 19th. The meeting aims to deepen and develop bilateral relations, following what was agreed at the end of the sixth meeting of the Working Group, held at the Vatican in October 2016, and subsequently on the occasion of the visit of His Excellency Hà Kim Ngoc, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam at the Vatican in August 2017 and that of Msgr. Camilleri in Ha Noi in January 2018, as well as the recent visit by His Excellency Truong Hoà Binh, First Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, who last October 20th at the Vatican was received in audience by His Holiness Pope Francis. During its stay in Vietnam, from the 18th to the 20th December, the Delegation will also meet the Bishops of the country who will be present in Ha Noi to take part in the Mass when the new Metropolitan Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien takes possession.”


This is a very special story and a fascinating video to watch! Kudos and many blessings to the teams who have done the restoration and those who put this all together at the Colosseum!


We are entering the final week of Advent and are just days away from the beautiful celebration of the birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Rome and the Vatican are in the spirit with the sacred – Nativity scenes – and the profane – stores and streets and piazzas decorated with colorful lights and other Christmas symbols. Christmas trees are everywhere and their relation to Christmas falls between the sacred and the profane.

Yesterday, in his last Angelus before Christmas Day, Pope Francis was joined by thousands of tourists and faithful in St. Peter’s Square whom he addressed, speaking from the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace. He focused on the upcoming solemnity and said: “During this week let us look for a few moments in which to pause, have a bit of silence, and imagine Our Lady and St. Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. The journey – the fatigue of it, but also the joy of it – the commotion, and then their anxiety over finding a place to stay, the worry – and so on. In all this, the Nativity scene helps us very much: Let us seek to enter into the true Nativity – Jesus’ birth – in order to receive the grace of this feast, which is a grace of love, of humility and of tenderness.”

A day earlier, Saturday, Pope Francis celebrated his 80th birthday. It was pretty much a typical workday but there were a few exceptions.

At the Santa Marta residence Saturday at 7 am, Pope Francis began his 80th birthday by sharing breakfast with eight homeless people, eating sweets from his native Argentina, pastries, meat, orange juice and Nutella, the ever-present Italian chocolate spread.


And that was not the end of the papal giving: birthday treats and a special Christmas donation were given to the poor in soup kitchens and shelters for the homeless in the city of Rome.

At 8 am, Francis concelebrated Mass in the Pauline Chapel with all the cardinals residing in Rome. A Vatican Radio report noted that the reason for the extraordinary liturgical celebration was thanksgiving to God for the life of Pope Francis, who was born 80 years ago this day, on December 17th, 1936.

The report said: “The liturgy unfolded with the simple penitential settings of the season, and the readings were those of the day. The Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, offered words of greeting in the name of all those present and of all the members of the College, saying, ‘The risen Jesus appeared to the disciples and addressed these well-known words to Simon-Peter: ‘Simon son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?’ And the Apostle immediately replied: ‘Yes, Lord, You know that I love you!’ It is with this love that Your Holiness today carries out His mission in the world. Then we know that we are close to you, especially today, on this beautiful day of your life.

Cardinal Sodano went on to say, ‘Our prayer shall be with you always, well mindful as we are of what we repeat in the Holy Mass every day, and that is: that by communion with the Body and Blood of Christ, may the Holy Spirit unite us in One Body’.”

At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis offered thanks to the Cardinals present, saying, “For several days now, I’ve been thinking of a word that can seem ugly – no? – dotage. It is scary: just yesterday, [Office Manager for the Dept. for Relations with States in the Secretariat of State of the Holy See] Msgr. [Luigi] Cavaliere  gave me [a copy of] Cicero’s De senectute  – right? Really laying it on! Only, remember what I said to you on March 15 [2013], in our first meeting: ‘Old age is the seat of wisdom.’ Hopefully it is for me, right? Let us hope that it is so.”

The Holy Father also recalled a line of the Roman poet, Ovid: “Tacitu pede lapsa vetustas [with silent steps, old age slips up on one] It is a blow! But also, when one thinks of it as a stage of life that is to give joy, wisdom, hope, one begins to live again, right? And I can think of another poem that I quoted to you that day too [from the German poet, Hölderlin]: Es ist ruhig, das Alter, und fromm, “Old age is quiet and religious”.

The Pope spent part of the remainder of the day taking phone calls and messages from world leaders, including US President Obama, Russian leader Putin and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, among the countless messages.

Without a doubt the most heartfelt was a written message and personal phone call from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. The press office noted that the written message was “very affectionate” and “particularly appreciated” by the Pope, as was the subsequent phone call. “In addition, Benedict XVI sent Pope Francis three small gifts that the Holy Father received as three very personal and meaningful signs for both of them,” the press office said.

Over 70,000 emails with birthday wishes were received by the Pope at the special Vatican email address. Hopefully he had time to read a few!

There was also a Skype link up with inmates of the Due Palazzi prison in Padua, Italy.


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday encouraged young Catholics to cultivate their relationships with their grandparents. (photo


Addressing a group of young people from the Italian Catholic lay association “Azione Cattolica Italiana” (Italian Catholic Action), the Pope spoke of the joy that derives from the coming of Jesus, and said that joy is increased and multiplied when we share it.

He invited the young people to receive the joy of Advent as they would receive a gift and to bear witness to it in their families, schools, parishes and in all places.

The Holy Father especially invited them to share it with their grandparents – and with elderly people in general – and he encouraged them to listen to the aged whom, he said, “have the wisdom of life”.

“I would like to give you a task: speak to your grandparents, … ask them questions, they have the memory of history, the experience of living, and this is a great gift for you that will help you in your life journey” he said.

And Francis also pointed out the grandparents themselves need “to listen to you, understand your aspirations and your hopes.”

“This is your task: speak to your grandparents, listen to them,” he said.

Pope Francis thanked those present for their commitment for peace and remarked on a ‘solidarity’ initiative they are carrying forward in favor of young people who live in a degraded area of Naples.

“May the Lord bless this project that does good” he said.

‘Azione Cattolica Italiana’ was established in Italy by Pope Pius X  in 1905 as a non-political lay organization under the direct control of bishops.


Pope Francis tweeted today: Forgiveness is the most visible sign of the Father’s love, which Jesus sought to reveal by his entire life.


My special guest this week on Vatican Insider is George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and prolific author, including “Witness to Hope,” the biography of Pope John Paul II. George recently gave a lecture at the North American College entitled “Catholics in the New America: The Evangelical Challenge After Election 2016” – a fascinating topic and you’ll want to stay tun


As you know, 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. 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 9:00am (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 is a link to VI archives:

And a link to automatically download VI to your iTunes library:


This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Frances received in audience President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón of the Republic of Colombia, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

Pope Francis (L) meets Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos (R) and former president Alvaro Uribe (C) at the Vatican December 16, 2016. Osservatore Romano/Handout via REUTERS

The discussions took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality, confirming the existing good relations between the Holy See and Colombia. Appreciation was expressed for the Pope’s support during the peace process, along with the hope that such peace will be stable and lasting. In this regard, the parties highlighted the importance of encounter and unity between the Colombian political parties and the commitment of FARC-EP, while the local Church will be able to offer her contribution in favour of national reconciliation and education in forgiveness and harmony. Some issues relating to regional current affairs were then addressed.

The Holy Father went on to meet His Excellency Senator Álvaro Uribe Vélez, first in private audience and then together with President Santos. The Pope spoke about the “culture of encounter” and emphasized the importance of sincere dialogue between all members of Colombian society at this historical moment (Holy See Press Office).



(Vatican Radio) Birthday wishes have been pouring in from across the globe in celebration of Pope Francis’ 80th on Saturday, 17 December.

Among those toasting the Pope in an especially ‘personal’ way, are the impoverished residents of the villas miserias – or shanty towns – in Buenos Aires who always looked to the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio, as their pastor.

Francis’ ‘right-hand-man’ in the field was Father ‘Pepe’ Di Paola, who continues to carry out his mission with the poorest of the poor in Argentina’s capital city. He spoke by telephone to Vatican Radio about Jorge Bergoglio and ‘his’ people.

First of all, Father Pepe says, I would like to wish Pope Francis the possibility of continuing to pursue his priestly vocation in solidarity and in communion with the poor and in deep union with the Church and the Gospel.

“May he go ahead in his mission to walk in the spirit of the Gospel which is what the Church is in need of” he says.

As for his birthday, Father Pepe reveals, Francis does not particularly like being made a fuss of. For example, he says, when the children and young people here in our vocational school used to make gifts for him, they knew he would give them away… but that was ok! It’s not that he didn’t appreciate the gift, what was important for him was that it was made by the children themselves and that they would want to be with him.

And exactly because they know him, Father Pepe says, what the poor people here in Argentina are doing for his birthday is praying for him. Because they love him very much.


The big story of the day for me was Pope Francis’ audience in the Paul VI Hall with young patients, their families and the hospital staff of Rome’s ‘Bambino Gesù’ Children’s Hospital. I posted the text of his remarks and an EWTN video for “Vaticano” on my FB page (

Two further news stories may interest you. Have a sweet tooth? The first story is for you.  Have an account at the Vatican Bank? Then the second piece of news is for you.


In celebration of Pope Francis 80th birthday on Saturday, a group of chefs presented the Pope with a huge birthday cake on Wednesday.


Papal colors of white and gold adorned the big round cake and topped with a huge ball designed as a globe. As a sign of peace, chefs also decorated the cake with sprigs of olive trees.

Early Wednesday, thousands of people attended the Pope’s General Audience and sang the Italian version of “Happy Birthday to You.” Pope Francis thanked the audience and candidly joked about the bad luck of early birthday wishes.

Pope Francis Birthday cake

The Pope said, “Thank you very much for your greetings for my upcoming birthday.” The gathering served as the last public appearance of the Pope before his birthday. He then added, “But I’ll tell you something that will make you laugh. In my country, expressing greetings ahead of time brings bad luck and those who do it are jinxers.”

80 years of age signifies an important milestone for Catholic prelates, particularly to those who work at the Vatican.

The age limit for a cardinal to join in a conclave to vote for a pope is 80 years. Furthermore, they were relieved from serving Vatican congregations and councils which they attended.

On the other hand, the Pope does not have any limitations.

Everyone can now send birthday greetings to Pope Francis. The Vatican set up seven unique emails addresses earlier this month, which includes an English counterpart Also, hashtag #Pontifex80 created in social media for the Pope’s birthday celebration.

Parliamentarians in the UK proposed an action for the House of Commons to greet the Pope on his birthday. Nine MPs already signed the motion from the Conservative and the Labour party. (


(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Thursday announced the Cardinals Commission of Vigilance of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), commonly known as the Vatican Bank, has appointed Mr. Scott C. Malpass, Javier Marín Romano and Georg Freiherr von Boeselager as members of the IOR Board of Superintendence, bringing the total number of members to seven.


Mr. Malpass, from the United States, has held various prestigious positions and has served for over 25 years as Chief Investment Officer for Notre Dame University in the United States, where he works in the field of investment in conformity with the social doctrine of the Church, and teaches courses in the field of investment research at the same University.

Mr. Marín, from Spain, enjoys a wealth of experience in banking and in particular has held various positions for Banco Santander, including Chief Executive Officer and as Head of the Private Banking, Asset Management and Insurance Division.

Mr. von Boeselager, of German nationality, has worked for many years in the private banking field and presently holds the position of Head of the Supervisory Board of Merck Finck & Privatbankiers AG, in Munich.

The three new members, each enjoying broad experience in the financial field, will meet together with the present members of the Board at their next meeting, scheduled for January, 2017.


Papal tweet for December 13: Today I would like each of us to reflect on his and her own past and the gifts received from the Lord.


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, through Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, appealing for “an end to the violence and the peaceful resolution of hostilities” in the country.


A communiqué from the Holy See Press Office released on Monday read as follows:

“In naming Archbishop Mario Zenari to the College of Cardinals, the Holy Father sought to show a particular sign of affection for the beloved Syrian people, so sorely tried in recent years.

“In a letter sent through the new Cardinal, Pope Francis expressed again his appeal to President Bashar al-Assad and to the international community for an end to the violence, and the peaceful resolution of hostilities, condemning all forms of extremism and terrorism from whatever quarter they may come, and appealing to the President to ensure that international humanitarian law is fully respected with regard to the protection of the civilians and access to humanitarian aid.”

I wonder if Pope Francis has seen this and similar stories appearing in news media today:


Dozens of civilians were killed by Syrian forces in “a complete meltdown of humanity” during the final battle for Aleppo, the U.N. said Tuesday amid separate reports that women and children were burned alive while some families chose suicide over surrender.

The U.N. human rights office said it received reports of pro-government forces killing at least 82 people as they tightened their grip on the shrinking rebel districts in the east of the city.

Rupert Colville, spokesman of the U.N. human rights office, said he feared retribution against thousands of civilians holed up in a “hellish corner” smaller than one square mile.

Complete story here:


On Saturday, December 17, when he turns 80, Pope Francis will preside at a concelebrated Mass in the Pauline Chapel with the cardinals resident in Rome. The rest of the day will be a “normal” one for the Holy Father, a day filled with commitments and appointments, including receiving the president of the Republic of Malta, the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, the bishop of Chur, Switzerland, and the Nomadelfia Community.


Those wishing to send birthday wishes to the Holy Father, can email him at the following addresses: (Latin) (Italian) (Spanish / Portuguese) (English) (French) (German) (Polish)

A special hashtag has been created on Social media for the Pope’s birthday: #Pontifex80


There’s a patron saint for practically everything in the Catholic Church, whether it’s gravediggers, stress relief, or protection against pirate attacks. But did you know there’s a patron saint for television – and she’s from the 13th century?

By the end of the 1950s, it was clear that television was becoming one of the most important new forms of media in modern society. And Pope Pius XII wanted to offer both the Church’s blessing and protection for the new technology. So, in 1958, he issued the document Apostolic Letter Proclaiming St. Clare Patron Saint of Television.

In it, the Pope proclaims that the Church supports technological innovation and advancement, and recommends the use of modern technology for the proclamation of the Gospel. He acknowledges that television is capable of both good and evil, which is why he wants it to have a patron saint for spiritual protection.

So he chose the 13th century St. Clare of Assisi, associate of the famous St. Francis of Assisi, and for a fascinating reason.

He tells the story that on one Christmas, St. Clare was sick and unable to leave her bed to attend Mass. Yet, miraculously, God gave her a vision of the Mass in her convent in real-time – sort of like a spiritual television. So she’s the perfect patron!

St. Clare of Assisi, please pray for the holy use of television and all media!


This page might be a bit light tomorrow as I spend time in the morning and early afternoon recording my weekly Vatican Radio show, “Joan Knows,” and also preparing “Vatican Insider,” my EWTN weekend radio show. Tomorrow afternoon, however, I will be attending a prayer vigil at St. Mary Major for all those who, like myself, will be invested Saturday into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. The investiture ceremony and Mass Saturday will take place at St. John Lateran.

Those will be two beautiful, memorable days in my life and I hope to share as much as possible with you. EWTN will be filming the investiture ceremony Saturday and I’ll let you know when you can view some of those images.

EWTN’s News Nightly will feature a brief conversation with me about this honor so tune in tonight or get your Tivo ready!


Did you know that we almost did not have a Pope Francis because of a ship?

In 1927 Mario Bergoglio, the Pope’s father, made a 60-mile trip by horse carriage from his home in Portacomaro, Italy to the port city of Genoa to purchase tickets for a boat trip to Argentina that he had booked earlier for himself and his family.

He sat in the offices of the Navigazione Generale Italian Shipping Company where an agent checked his papers and then told him: “I’m afraid that all the staterooms are booked for the Princess Mafalda.” The future Pope’s father protested, saying he had made reservations months earlier and had not been notified of any changes. The agent, looking at Mario’s papers, said someone made a mistakes, the prices were too low and the Bergoglio cabin in steerage had been booked at a higher price. Mario tried to book a higher class – no luck .It seemed the family dreams of doing well in Argentina like other relatives were shattered.

Back home, Mario Bergoglio, explained things to the family. Two weeks pass. One day Mario comes home, waving a newspaper that he shows to his parents –Pope Francis’ grandparents Giovanni and Rosa – The banner headline read: “PRINCESS MAFALDA SINKS!”  There were survivors and most of the dead were from steerage class, the one Mario had originally booked.

Only two years later were the Bergoglios able to leave Italy for Argentina on the ship Giulio Cesare, arriving in Buenos Aires in February, 1929.

On December 17, 1936 Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Pope Francis – was born.

By the way, the real Princess Mafalda of Savoy was captured by the Nazis during World War II for use as a hostage to manipulate her father. She died at Buchenwald concentration camp in 1944. Her full name was Princess Mafalda Maria Elisabetta Anna Romana of Savoy and she was the second daughter of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and his wife Elena of Montenegro. The future King Umberto II of Italy was her younger brother.

Pope Francis was serenaded today by members of Italian Catholic Action whom he thanked for their commitment to welcome migrants. They also gave him a cake. (photo



(Vatican Radio) Friday, Pope Francis will open a Holy Door at a newly refurbished homeless centre run by the Church near Rome’s main train station. The radio’s Lydia O’Kane went along to see the newly completed project which offers a bed, a meal and ray of hope to hundreds of people every night.

As you arrive at the Holy Door of the Caritas centre for the homeless at Rome’s Termini Station you can’t fail to notice the mosaic logo of the Year of Mercy depicting Jesus the Good Shepherd by Marko Ivan Rupnik. (photo: ANSA,


The door will be opened by Pope Francis on December 18th and he will also have the chance to see for himself the newly refurbished dormitory and soup kitchen which are named after Caritas Rome founder Don Luigi Di Liegro and Pope Saint John Paul II.

Speaking at the inauguration of the new centre which he described as a place of dignity and welcome, the present Director of Caritas Rome, Monsignor Enrico Feroci quoted the words of Don Luigi who said, “a city in which one man suffers less is a better city”.

Those words are inscribed on the walls of the new pristine soup kitchen which caters for up to 600 homeless people every evening and offers a much needed respite from the streets outside where people can come, for warmth, contact with others, and a good meal.

As I make my way to the hostel itself, I am impressed by how welcoming they have made the 200 bed dormitories, each one with its own signature colour.

It’s taken years of work and co-operation to have both the canteen and hostel ready for Pope Francis’ Jubilee visit as Fulvio Ferrari, the Chief Engineer responsible for the project explains.

“We worked during two years… in the last 6 months, we worked a great deal and for the Jubilee”.

So why does he think Pope Francis chose to open a Holy Door here?

He says it’s because it is putting service at the heart of the Church’s mission. This is a centre that offers hope and help to all who pass through its doors, but here at Termini there is also general agreement that in this Jubilee of Mercy more and more people are increasingly in need of services like these.