ROME — In a surprise visit on Friday, Pope Francis stopped by the Santa Lucia Foundation, a neuro-rehabilitation center in Rome.
He visited with patients of the center, who are receiving rehabilitation treatment for mobile and cognitive impairment, such as those suffering from strokes, spinal-cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
The visit continues Pope Francis’ custom of “Mercy Friday” encounters. Originally planned once per month during the Church’s Jubilee of Mercy in 2016, the Pope has continued these surprise visits, practicing spiritual and corporal works of mercy. He has met with refugees, children, women freed from sex trafficking and the terminally ill, among others.
Pope Francis visited the facility shortly after 4pm, the Vatican said in a statement. He was greeted by the president and general manager of the association, as well as a group of staff members.
The Pope visited with children affected by neurological illnesses, joking with them and offering words of comfort to their parents. He also stopped by the wing where teenage and young-adult tetraplegic and paraplegic patients are cared for, as well as the gym where elderly patients go through rehabilitation exercises.
According to the Vatican, the Holy Father encouraged all those going through the neuro-rehabilitation process to maintain hope. He visited the building’s chapel before returning home.