Pope Francis makes first trip outside of Rome in months with visit to women’s prison in Venice

Pope Francis in Astana^ Kazakhstan. September 15. 2022

Pope Francis made his first trip outside Rome in seven months on Sunday, visiting a prison for women in Venice ahead of a mass in the city.  The Pope has not travelled since visiting the French city of Marseille in September 2023.

Amid concerns over his health, the 87-year-old pontiff arrived by helicopter at 8:00am local time to the courtyard of the women’s prison on the island of Giudecca, and greeted one by one the approximately 80 inmates, staff and volunteers. The pope met with female prisoners who are stars of the Vatican’s pavilion at the Biennale contemporary art show, urging the women to rebuild their lives in the first ever papal visit to one of the world’s biggest art gatherings.

The pope encouraged the women to reconstruct their lives “brick upon brick, together, with determination” during their time in prison, saying: “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. But it can also become a place of moral and material rebirth.”  The Pontiff 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”.

Pope Francis also toured an art exhibition housed at the prison which examines 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.

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