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The Pope and the Murderer


During a visit to the Regina Coeli prison in Rome, Pope John XXIII requested that the inmates be allowed to leave their cells so that he might address them in the main courtyard of the prison. In the course of the speech he did not hesitate to recall that one of his cousins had once been arrested for poaching and had served a stretch in jail.

The Pope expressed pleasure at this opportunity to visit these incarcerated thieves, murderers, and seducers. “I have come,” he said, “you have seen me. I have looked into your eyes; I have placed my heart alongside your hearts. Be assured that this meeting will remain deeply engraved in my heart.”

Among the prisoners who were allowed to approach the Pope, there were two murderers. One of them, after kissing the Pontiff’s ring, looked up at him with deep sadness on his face. “Are those words of hope you have given us meant foe such a great sinner as I am?

In response the Pope bent over the convict and embraced him.

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