Friday, May 25, 2018

Mercy Fridays continue

At 4:00pm local time (10:00am EDT) this afternoon, continuing the established tradition of Mercy Friday visits, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, along with His Excellency, Rino Risichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, paid a visit to the Elisa Scala Comprehensive Institute in Rome, a state school located in the south-eastern peripheries of the Capital, between the Borgata Binocchio and the Borghesiana.

The Elisa Scala Comprehensive Institute was created in the 1950s; in light of the increasing demographics in that area of the city, beginning in the 1970s, the Institute grew to include four more buildings which are spread throughout the areas of Borghesiana and Finocchio, between via di Rocca Cencia, via di Motta Camastra and via Roccaforte del Greco.

The Holy Father visited the headquarters of the Institute located on the via Nicotera.  Upon his arrival, the Pope was welcomed by the school's Director, Professor Claudia Gentili and by hundreds of boys and girls who were present at the Institute carrying out various afternoon activities.

Professor Gentili had the opportunity to tell Pope Francis about the history of the Institute which, since October 2015, has been linked to the Scala family whose daughter - little Elisa - while attending the first grade at the then Comprehensive Institute of Via Rocca Camestra, died tragically due to a severe case of leukemia at the age of 11 years.  Eliza was a very lively and determined child who spoke from time to time with her father and mother about her passion for books and libraries.  When she died, it seemed natural for her parents to propose to the school that her dream should come to pass: a room filled with books that could be visited by all children.  A few months later, in December 2015, the Elisa Library was founded, a space that could be filled with books.  Subsequently, the the Give a book for Elisa initiative was launched by her father Giorgio and her mother Maria, inviting all those who wished to contribute small donations of books to the Elisa Library.  Thousands of books were collected, in various languages, and each one was dedicated to Elisa.  Today there are more than 20,000 volumes which have been shipped from all regions of Italy, from Europe and even from Australia; these books are now circulating among the public libraries in Rome.  Only a few months ago, the Institute got the go-ahead from the city of Rome and from the Ministry of Education to name the school after little Elisa.

During his visit, the Pope met with Elisa's parents who were very moved as they showed him the various rooms of the library.  The Holy Father spent a few moments with them and donated a few books to the library, all of them dedicated to Elisa.

The children sang some songs to express the climate of joy and welcome that was brought about by the Holy Father's unplanned visit.  After having greeted the headmaster, the teachers, the school staff, the parents and the children, the Pope returned to Casa Santa Marta.

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