^

World

Pope Francis meets women prisoners in Venice, first trip in months

Clément Melki - Agence France-Presse
Pope Francis meets women prisoners in Venice, first trip in months
This photo taken and handout on April 28, 2024 by The Vatican Media shows Pope Francis during a visit to inmates in the internal courtyard of the Venice Women's Prison on the Island of Giudecca as part of his visit in Venice. Arriving by helicopter at 8:00am local time to the courtyard of the women's prison on the island of Giudecca, the pope greeted one by one the approximately 80 inmates, staff and volunteers. The pope also toured the art exhibition housed at the prison that considers the daily lives of the inmates through the work of 10 different artists. The exhibit is the Vatican's entry for this year's Biennale festival of art, which began last weekend.
Photo by handout / Vatican Media / AFP

VENICE, Italy — Pope Francis on Sunday visited a prison for women in Venice ahead of a mass in the watery city representing the 87-year-old pontiff's first trip outside Rome for seven months.

The one-day trip to Venice will be closely watched amid concerns over the fragile health of Francis, who has toured the world extensively in his 11 years as pope but has not travelled since visiting the French city of Marseille in September.

Arriving by helicopter at 8:00am local time to the courtyard of the women's prison on the island of Giudecca, the pope greeted one by one the approximately 80 inmates, staff and volunteers.

The pope, who throughout his papacy has spoken up in defence of prisoners and the marginalised, encouraged the women to reconstruct their lives "brick upon brick, together, with determination" during their time behind bars.

"Prison is a harsh reality, and problems such as overcrowding, the lack of facilities and resources, and episodes of violence, give rise to a great deal of suffering there," he said, sitting in front of the prisoners.

"But it can also become a place of moral and material rebirth..." he added.

Francis called on the prison system to "offer detainees the tools and room for human, spiritual, cultural and professional growth, creating the conditions for their healthy reintegration".

The pope also toured the art exhibition housed at the prison that considers the daily lives of the inmates through the work of 10 different artists.

The exhibit is the Vatican's entry for this year's Biennale festival of art, which began last weekend.

Francis's visit represents "a historic moment because he will be the first pope to visit the Venice Biennale," said the exhibition's lead curator, Jose Tolentino de Mendonca.

Last year in December, a bout of bronchitis forced the pope to cancel a trip to Dubai, where he was to have addressed UN climate talks.

He also pulled out of an Easter event at the last minute in March, after suffering for several weeks from what the Vatican called a "light flu".

Mass on St Mark's Square

Following the prison visit, the pope is due to address young people at the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, a landmark church on the south end of the Grand Canal.

From there he will head to St Mark's Square via a bridge built on a base of boats lined up across the canal and preside over a mass starting at 11:00am.

He is due to depart Venice in the early afternoon, having become the fourth pope to visit the city, after Paul VI (1972), Jean-Paul II (1985) and Benedict XVI (2011).

The diocese of Venice is one of the largest in Italy, with 125 parishes, and has close ties with the papacy. Three Venice patriarchs became popes in the 20th century.

Francis's visit comes on the same weekend as Venice launches a new entry fee for day-trippers, aimed at easing the pressure of tourism on the UNESCO World Heritage site.

As a guest, the head of the Catholic Church will be exempt from buying a five-euro ($5.30) ticket, but non-resident pilgrims visiting for his mass will have to pay.

The pontiff, who uses a wheelchair, has suffered increasing health problems in recent years, from knee pain to surgery for a hernia and on his colon.

Despite his health, the Vatican is planning an ambitious 12-day trip to Asia in September, taking in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Singapore.

Before that, the pope is due to make two other trips within Italy, to Verona in May and Trieste in July.

vuukle comment

CATHOLIC CHURCH

POPE FRANCIS

ROMAN CATHOLIC

Philstar
x
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Latest
abtest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with