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Rome Reports

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Psychiatric patients visit Rome for a chance to see the Pope

They came to St. Peter's Square all the way from Northern Italy for a chance to see Pope Francis.  It's a group of families and patients with psychiatric problems, who are cared for by the Camillian Order. They decided to visit the Vatican to mark 400 years since the death the Order's founder: Saint Camillus.  "We care for 40 people with mental disabilities, some of them serious. We welcome them, give them treatment and assist them in their rehabilitation. The goal of our center is to give them dignity.â?  Once the trip was set, the group decided to combine their treatment with some humor. They all wore T-shirts that read, 'We're crazy for Jesus.'  "So our theme, 'We're crazy for Jesus' is a bit ironic, because well, our patients are people with psychiatric problems. But we wanted to make our visit all about Jesus.â?  They say the experience was one of a kind, before, during and after the audience.  "It's very excitingâ? "I can't describe it. I don't even know what to sayâ? "You have to see it to understand it.â?  "When you first walk into the Square, you feel the excitement. Then, there's the imposing Basilica. When you actually see the Pope, it's amazing.â?  Even though traveling to Rome did pose some challenges, the group agrees it was all well worth it.  AFP/KLH  MG VM -PR Up: YJA