VATICAN CITY (CNS) — People in a quiet residential neighborhood of Rome were surprised when a blue Ford Focus came to a stop, and Pope Francis stepped out.

The pope arrived July 28 at an apartment building in the city’s Salario neighborhood just a few blocks from the parish of Santa Maria Addolorata, the Argentine national church in Rome, to visit a friend who was bedridden and had repeatedly invited him to visit, reported the Italian news agency Dire.

“There is an elderly lady who knows him, but she can’t move,” a neighbor told Dire.


Vatican and Italian plainclothes police officers waited outside while the pope made his way to the apartment to visit his friend, the agency reported. The visit lasted nearly an hour.

As word spread that Pope Francis was in the neighborhood, residents gathered around the pope’s car awaiting his return.

The pope greeted the well-wishers and blessed religious articles they brought to him.

Upon hearing that the pope was in his building, a resident who was sick for some time, raced downstairs, hoping to greet the pope. Pope Francis, the news agency reported, blessed and comforted the man before he got back in the car and returned to the Vatican.