It’s a custom in Italy during the Eastern season for a parish priest to travel door-to-door blessing homes. But in this Rome suburb, a very unexpected priest showed up to perform the annual ritual – Pope Francis!
The Catholic Herald is reporting on a surprise visit by Pope Francis who decided to undertake the customary blessings at a public housing complex in the Rome suburb of Ostia as one of his “Mercy Friday” visits.
Father Plinio Poncina, pastor of Stella Maris parish, had put up the customary signs announcing that a priest would be visiting the neighborhood to bless the houses of parishioners.
However, what residents weren’t told is that Pope Francis was the “priest on call” that day. With his usual down-to-earth manner, the Holy Father he rang the door bells and watched as doors opened to reveal astonished residents. One woman burst into tears when she saw him standing on her stoop.
“It was a great surprise today when, instead of the pastor, the one ringing the door bells was Pope Francis. With great simplicity, he interacted with the families, he blessed a dozen apartments,” the Vatican press office said.
“Joking, he apologized for disturbing people. However, he reassured them that he had respected the hour of silence for a nap after lunch in accordance with the sign posted at the entrance to the building.”
The Pope began making Mercy Friday visits during the Year of Mercy and decided to continue them, often taking time out to visit hospitals, children’s homes, rehab centers and other places of care in an effort to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.