They were beaten and abused. But now, the Pope assures them, “I pray for you”. The pontiff has sent his blessing to the 11 elderly people of the ‘Bell’Aurora’ nursing home in Palermo, Italy, closed by order of the Public Prosecutor’s Office after the discovery of multiple abuses there in April.

The Pope’s blessing of the aged people was contained in a letter signed by Monsignor Roberto Cona, Assessor for General Affairs of the Vatican Secretariat of State, which was given to the lawyer Marco Zummo, who had asked for a “gesture” from Pope in support of the mistreated elderly.

Now, with the arrival of new personnel in the home, the situation has changed, and the elderly are smiling again. The Pope’s prayer, and his “spiritual closeness” to the elderly, have also helped.

“These dear old people have been freed thanks to the praiseworthy and coordinated action of the judicial authority and the Guardia di Finanza [an Italian law enforcement agency – ed.] and have been entrusted to me as judicial administrator”, explained Zummo, who stressed that “the Holy Father’s affectionate message fills us all with great joy and is a great comfort to those who have suffered”.

There was much suffering in the nursing home.

Six people were arrested in April, and, over the course of a two-month intervention, investigators discovered “horrifying” scenes of cruelty against several elderly people, to the point that one of them tried to throw himself off a balcony.

But now, after the pain, the mistreated elderly have found hope in Pope Francis’ words.

More on Novena on the Church’s concern for the elderly:

On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Pope cautions: “When the elderly are not cared for, there is no future for the young”

“The generation that built Europe cannot be left to die”: Sant’Egidio launches urgent appeal for elderly in COVID-19


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.