May families be Together at Christmas :Pope Francis at Angelus

Pope Francis on Sunday reflected on how Christmas is a time for families to be reunited. He was speaking after the Angelus prayer in the Vatican.

Pope Francis on Sunday told pilgrims gathered for the Angelus Prayer in St. Peter’s Square that Christmas is a time to be together as a family.“My thoughts go in particular to the families who are reunited in these days: may those who live far from their parents return home; may brothers and sisters strive to be together again... At Christmas it is beautiful and important to be together as a family” he said.

The Pope also reflected on how there are many people however, who do not have this possibility for a number of reasons, and said that his greetings and words go in particular “to all those who are far from their family and from their land”.“Dear brothers and sisters, our heavenly Father does not forget you and does not abandon you. If you are Christians, I wish that you may find in the Church a true family where you can experience the warmth of fraternal love” he said.

And to all, the Pope concluded: “the doors of the Christian community are open. Jesus is born for all and brings the love of God to all”.

Pope gives new clinic to poor and pilgrims for Christmas

Pope Francis has gifted a new medical clinic as a Christmas gift for the homeless and pilgrims set up just next to the colonnade of St. Peter's Square in the Vatican.Called “Ambulatorio-Madre di Misericordia”, or Mother of Mercy Clinic, the clinic replaces the San Martino centre that has been providing first aid to the homeless since February 2016, with a shower and barber service added more recently.  

In a statement, the Office of Papal Charities headed by the Pope’s Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski said that the initiative was planned and executed by the Governorate of Vatican City State in coordination with the Department of Health and Hygiene of the Vatican. 

Medical visits and tests
Set up in a small space formerly belonging to the Vatican Post Office, the Ambulatorio-Madre di Misericordia has 3 rooms for medical examinations, an office, 2 bathrooms and a waiting room. The rooms are furnished with new equipment and machinery for full medical examinations and some tests for patients.

The clinic will be open thrice a week – Monday, Thursday and Saturday.   A podiatrist (foot and ankle specialist) will be available on Monday mornings.  The clinic will also provide first aid to pilgrims during Vatican audiences or events in St. Peter's Square and the Basilica. 

Volunteer service and internship
The entire service is being provided by volunteer doctors, specialists and healthcare personnel of the Vatican, the Tor Vergata University of Rome, the Italian “Associazione Medicina Solidale” (Association of Solidarity Medicine) and the Italian Podiatrists Association. Ambulatorio-Madre di Misericordia will also provide internships for the students and postgraduates of the Faculty of Medicine of Tor Vergata University. 

Pope's surprises
On the occasion of the Catholic Church’s World Day of the Poor, Nov. 18, a makeshift mobile medical centre was set up in St. Peter’s Square, allowing the poor and needy to come for free checkups and evaluations from specialists.  Pope Francis made a surprise visit to the clinic, as he has done on similar occasions in the past, taking time to speak to both patients and volunteer staff there. Another recent Christmas gesture of Pope Francis has been a lunch for the poor and homeless of Rome’s seaside town of Ostia on December 18 offered by Italy’s finance police, Guardia di Finanza, at Castelporziano near Ostia.