Holy Father continues 'Mercy Friday' visits after Year of Mercy

Pope Francis has returned to a practice he developed during the Year of Mercy: making a Friday afternoon visit to people in need of or deserving special care.

For the visit, he chose the Sant’ Alessio-Margherita di Savoia Regional Centre for the Blind in Rome. The centre is home to 37 adults and senior citizens who are blind or severely visually impaired, but the structure also offers specialised classes for 50 children with the same challenges.

“With this visit, the Pope wants to continue the so-called Mercy Friday visits carried out during the Jubilee of Mercy,” the Vatican said in a statement.

The visits were designed to reflect the spiritual and corporal works of mercy with “those who live in situations of physical and social exclusion”.

The Pope’s visit was scheduled to last about two hours.

The centre was founded in 1868 by lay Catholics with the support of Pope Pius IX and specialised in giving a general education to children who were blind, teaching them to read Braille. It also teamed up with Rome’s Santa Cecilia Conservatory, offering many of the young students a musical education.