Pope Francis pays a surprise visit to the Emanuele Village, a structure near Rome dedicated to people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Pope Francis continued the “Mercy Friday” tradition this week by visiting the Emanuele Village in the northern outskirts of Rome. He was accompanied, as usual on these visits, by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.
The Emanuele Village
The Emanuele Village is a structure dedicated to the care of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. It is organised like a real Village, reproducing many small aspects of everyday life, assisting those who live with this disease to maintain a bridge of communication with the outside world, promoting socialisation and inclusion. The Village is named after its founder, who set out to create an innovative solution for residential care for people affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
The Pope’s visit
Upon his arrival, the Pope was greeted with amazement by the residents and staff in the courtyard of the Village. He then spoke to those present, exchanging words of comfort with each of them.
With this visit, Pope Francis wanted to draw attention to the conditions of exclusion and loneliness that a disease like Alzheimer’s risks generating in people who are often left alone by society. The progressive increase in life expectancy also calls for greater awareness and respect for the needs and dignity of those who live with this disease.
The 23rd World Alzheimer’s Day was celebrated on 21 September 2016. On that occasion, during the General Audience, Pope Francis said: “I invite everyone to remember, with the solicitude of Mary and with the tenderness of the Merciful Jesus, those affected by this disease, together with their families. We also pray for the people who are close to the sick, knowing how to grasp their needs, even the most imperceptible ones, because they are seen with eyes full of love.”
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It is an incurable degenerative disease. It causes the destruction of neurons in certain parts of the brain and a progressive deficit of cognitive functions. It affects memory, language and behaviour. Early diagnosis prevents complications and rapid deterioration. Dementia affects 47 million people globally and is the seventh cause of death worldwide.
With thanks to Vatican News, where this article originally appeared.