I had a heads-up on today’s first story as I was checking the Whatsapp site of journalist colleagues this morning and saw that Javier Martinez Brocal of Rome Reports broke the news with a tweet and a photo as he was there last night when the Pope visited! A nice scoop!

The second story highlights the Holy Father’s wonderful catechesis on St. Joseph the carpenter, the worker and the importance of work in our lives. I have interspersed some photos that I love in that story. One shows Jesus as a toddler, a depiction I found online.

Several other photos depict the Holy Family with Asian traits, pictures I took on a visit to Vietnam. This sculpture is in the courtyard of Danang’s cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (known in Vietnam as ‘the pink church!).   I actually said a prayer when I first saw this sculpture, as it is so striking, so inductive to reflection – Mary with Asian characteristics who appears to be bringing water to Joseph and Jesus as they work side by side.


Pope Francis visits the “Stereosound” shop in Rome’s Pantheon area to bless the recently renovated premises.

By Vatican News staff writer

It was a huge surprise to those in the neighbourhood when on the afternoon of September 4, 2015 Pope Francis entered an optician’s in the historic centre of Rome, to change the frames of his glasses.

Then, again on December 21, 2016 when he visited the Fisioitop orthopaedic shop in the Gregorio VII area, to buy new shoes.

On Tuesday afternoon, a similar scene took place with the sudden arrival of Pope Francis in the premises of “Stereosound,” an old record shop in Via della Minerva, near the Pantheon.

Pope Francis knows the owners of the shop from his time as an Archbishop, when he stayed in the Casa del Clero in the nearby Via della Scrofa during his visits to Rome.

Blessing of the recently renovated premises

Arriving at around 7 pm in a white Fiat 500L, Pope Francis soon attracted the attention of passers-by.

According to Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, Pope Francis blessed the premises, which have been recently renovated. He also took time to look around inside the shop for around ten minutes.

In the meantime, according to those present, a small crowd had gathered, ready to film the Pope’s exit with their smartphones.

They were mainly youngsters joking about what kind of music the Pope might be interested in and peering through the windows, from where Pope Francis could be seen blessing Letizia, the elderly owner, her son-in-law and her daughter.

The shop-owner’s daughter presented the Pope with a gift, wrapped in blue paper: a 33 rpm record of classical music.


Pope Francis held the weekly general audience this morning in a Paul VI Hall almost devoid of pilgrims. In the years I have attended or watched these audiences on TV, I do not recall ever seeing a gathering this small!

In the early months of 2020 with the outbreak of Covid on the world scene and a severe lockdown in Italy and the Vatican, papal audiences were streamed from the papal library online. When in-person audiences resumed, they took place in the San Damaso courtyard with 500 seats set up for the faithful in a social distancing setting.

Over time, starting last year, audiences resumed in the Paul VI Hall and on some occasions saw a half-filled hall and, on others, including recent weeks, the hall was filled to capacity. (photo Daniel Ibanez EWTN/CNA)

Not so today.

However, that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the faithful present who happily gathered around the Holy Father when he came down to greet the faithful after the catechesis.

Francis’ focus this week was once again on St. Joseph – St. Joseph the worker – and the value, and indeed necessity, of work in our lives.

The Pope began by explaining how “the evangelists Matthew and Mark refer to Joseph as a ‘carpenter’ or ‘joiner,’ a trade practiced by Jesus. … The Greek term tekton, used to specify Joseph’s work, has been translated in various ways. The Latin Fathers of the Church rendered it as ‘carpenter’.”

Francis then noted that, “in the Palestine of Jesus’ time, wood was used not only to make ploughs and various pieces of furniture, but also to build houses, which had wooden frames and terraced roofs made of beams connected with branches and earth. Therefore, ‘carpenter’ or ‘joiner’ was a generic qualification, indicating both woodworkers and craftsmen engaged in activities related to construction.”

The Pope emphasized that, “it was quite a hard job, having to work with heavy materials such as wood, stone, and iron. From an economic point of view, it did not ensure great earnings, as can be deduced from the fact that Mary and Joseph, when they presented Jesus in the Temple, offered only a couple of turtledoves or pigeons as the Law prescribed for the poor.”

“This biographical fact about Joseph and Jesus,” stated Francis, “makes me think of all the workers in the world, especially those who do gruelling work in mines and certain factories; those who are exploited through undocumented work; the victims of labor; the children who are forced to work and those who rummage among the trash in search of something useful to trade.”


He added that he also thinks of “those who are out of work; of those who rightly feel their dignity wounded because they cannot find a job. Many young people, many fathers and mothers experience the ordeal of not having a job that allows them to live tranquilly. And how often the search for work becomes so desperate that it drives them to the point of losing all hope and the desire to live. In these times of pandemic, many people have lost their jobs — and some, crushed by an unbearable burden, reached the point of taking their own lives. I would like to remember each of them and their families today.”

Pope Francis underscored that “not enough consideration is given to the fact that work is an essential component of human life, and even of the path of sanctification. Work is not only a means of earning a living: it is also a place where we express ourselves, feel useful, and learn the great lesson of concreteness, which helps keep the spiritual life from becoming spiritualism.”

“Unfortunately,” he went on, “labor is often a hostage to social injustice and, rather than being a means of humanization, it becomes an existential periphery. I often ask myself: With what spirit do we do our daily work? How do we deal with fatigue? Do we see our activity as linked only to our own destiny or also to the destiny of others?”

“Today,” Francis concluded, “we should ask ourselves what we can do to recover the value of work; and what contribution we can make, as the Church, so that work can be redeemed from the logic of mere profit and can be experienced as a fundamental right and duty of the person, which expresses and increases his or her dignity.”