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March 9 2015 | ROME, ITALY

Pope Francis visiting Tor Bella Monaca greets the disabled, the School of Peace and the elders of Sant'Egidio

A disabled artist gave him one of his paintings depicting St. Francis and the wolf of Gubbio

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Yesterday, Pope Francis visited the parish of Torbellamonaca, a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Rome where he was enthusiastically welcomed. There were also many of the Sant'Egidio Community in the animated and festive square: the Friends, the people with disabilities that here in Torbellamonaca have created the Laboratory Museum of Experimental Art, the Youth for Peace and the children of the School of Peace, and so many elderly people.

Along the way that carried to the parish, Pope Francis, attracted by the banner of the School of Peace, went to meet them and blessed the children and young people.

At the chapel of the Sisters of Saint Joan Antide, where sick and disabled people were waiting for him, he stopped for a long while with each one. The Friends told about themselves and the Community: "We have a very beautiful house here in Torbellamonaca: here come the children, the youth, the elderly and we, the disabled. We are very well together!". "I used to be a child of the School of Peace, now I work at the Trattoria degli Amici in Trastevere". The pope, addressing to them said: "I bless you. Keep on like this". The Friends gave Pope Francis a picture, painted by one of the artists (Marianna Caprioletti) which depicts St. Francis and the wolf of Gubbio: prayer and mercy free the city from violence.

The pope then spoke briefly with the elderly. He said to one of them, a woman over ninety years old: "Madam, do not say: "I am old", but say:"I am young twice".

Meeting the Pastoral Council, attended by adults and young people of the Community, the pope said: "We proclaim Jesus Christ with gestures: even with words, but first with gestures. With closeness ... Get closer. Do not be afraid of closeness. Do not be afraid of caresses: caress people, the sick, the lonely, even those that deserve the title of 'miserable': caress them, as God caressed us. Closeness, caresses, love. Go ahead on this road; and thank you, thank you, thank you for what you do... And pray for me... What does this mean? With the heart get closer to me, I also need your caresses and prayers!".

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