Pope Francis made an unscheduled visit to a drug rehabilitation centre in the Alban hills outside Rome on Friday. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who accompanied the Holy Father, said the 55 young people and the volunteers living at the San Carlo community centre at the Italian Centre for Solidarity (CeIS) near Castelgandalfo, were astonished to see him arrive unannounced and without any security escort.
The Archbishop, who is President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization, said Pope Francis spent time talking to each one of the young people and listening to their stories of battling drug dependency. He said that he hoped the visit would encourage people to feel confident in the power of God's mercy, "which continues to support our pilgrimage and which, even in the coldest hours, makes us feel the warmth of God's presence."
Founded in the late 1960s by Father Mario Picchi, the centre has also welcomed visits by Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, who met with its young residents during an official visit in September 1983.
Source: VIS/Vatican Radio