Prisoners to the Pope in Venice: “Your visit will bring us many blessings”

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Pope Francis landed in the square of the women's prison in Venice. The inmates greeted him with enthusiasm.

About 80 women live in the facility. The Pope wanted to greet them one by one and then said a few brief words. Despite his clear difficulty breathing, the Pope appeared to be in good spirits.

I wished to meet you at the beginning of my visit to Venice to tell you that you have a place special in my heart. Therefore, I would like us to live this moment not so much as an “official visit” of the Pope, but as a meeting in which, by God's grace, we give each other time, prayer, closeness and fraternal affection.

Pope Francis stressed that prison life is a harsh reality with problems like loneliness and violence. But he encouraged the prisoners not to lose hope.

Don't close the window please, always look to the horizon, always look to the future with hope. I like to think of hope as an anchor, you know? That we anchor in the future and we have the rope between our hands and we go forward with the thing anchored in the future.

The Pope invited those present to turn prison into a “place of moral and material rebirth.” He asked that the prison system “offer detainees a space for growth” that will enable them to have true social reintegration.

At the end of the meeting, the Pope gifted an image of Mary to the prison. Some of the inmates gave him gifts of products made in the prison itself and dedicated a few words to him.

His visit will bring us… forgiveness, it will bring us many blessings, prosperity, peace, love, liberation for the whole world. We pray to God to give us strength in our hearts. I wish you great health for the good you have done for us today. Thank you very much Pope Francis.

The Pope wanted his first meeting in Venice to be with the prisoners. During Holy Week, Francis also visited another women's prison, one on the outskirts of Rome, where he imitated Jesus' gesture of washing the feet of his disciples.


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