The month of March began with Ash Wednesday. The pope presided at the traditional liturgy in one of Rome's basilicas, which marked the beginning of Lent.
A few days later, the pope traveled by bus with his cardinals and the bishops of the Roman Curia for a week-long retreat.
“...these are days of prayer, of reflection, apart from the important obligations that you have every day.”
On the last day, the pope raised 100,000 euros from participants to be sent to the martyred city of Aleppo, Syria.
Lent is a time of penitence, and for this reason, in the middle of March, Pope Francis went to confession in St. Peter's Basilica and then heard the confessions of several pilgrims.One of the most intense days of the month was March 23, when the pope received 27 Heads of State from the European Union to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.
“Europe is a family of peoples and that – as in every good family – there are different sensitivities, yet all can grow to the extent that all are united.”
As a souvenir from the encounter, a photo of all the participants was taken in the Sistine Chapel, under Michelangelo's fresco of the Final Judgment.
The pope traveled to Milan at the end of the month for a brief trip during which he was able to accomplish many things. One example was when he had lunch with a group of prisoners in a jail.
Pope Francis greeted prisoners one-by-one, as they received him with a huge round of applause.
… and even still, more applause.
'I could say: lots of applause, lots of applause, but afterwards they won't feed us.'
In Milan, he also met with more than 80,000 young people in the San Siro Stadium. The meeting was meant to encourage these youth not to bully or humiliate others.
POPE FRANCIS March 27, 2017
'Promise the Lord that you will never do this and you will not permit it to be done in your school, in your school, in your neighborhood. Is that understood?'
'You promise? Never, never make fun of a schoolmate, a neighbor. Do you promise this today?'
'The pope is not happy with your response... Do you promise?'
On the last day of the month, the pope paid a surprise visit to the Sant'Alessio Center in Rome.
“How are you?”
The majority of the people at the center are blind or have sensory or intellectual disabilities. Pope Francis stopped to greet parents and their children.
“We love you very much. We love you very much.”
'I leave you, as a souvenir, a writing in Braille and also in normal handwriting. Also an icon of Our Lady, the Mother of us all, so that she protects you.'
March was a month filled with papal visits to those most in need of his presence: from the young to the old.