Pope Francis Visits Parish of Assumption Students in Rome

Mar 14, 2024

Students studying at Assumption’s Rome Campus this spring semester had the experience of a lifetime last Friday, March 8, when Pope Francis visited the campus’ local parish, the Church of San Pio V. The students, along with faculty and some family members who were visiting students at the Rome campus, were able to celebrate a liturgy of prayer and reconciliation with the Pope at the local parish. The local parish that Pope Francis visited is located about 250 yards from Assumption’s Rome Campus. 

“The papal visit to our local parish church was especially amazing, and the first time that has ever happened,” said Lance Lazar, the Director of Assumption’s Rome Program. “I can’t think of any occasion when Assumption students have been closer to Pope Francis.” 

On Fridays during Lent this year, the Pope has visited different parishes throughout Rome, Lazar explained. This visit marked the first time a Pope has visited the Church of San Pio V, and according to Vatican News reports, over 1,500 people were present both inside and outside of the church to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis. 

“The atmosphere was electric and the homily of Pope Francis was gentle and beautiful, a true invitation to return to the Gospel,” Lazar said. “He had the entire congregation repeat the words several times: ‘Gesù non si stanca mai di perdonare,’ or ‘Jesus never grows tired of forgiving.’ He then continued, ‘We may grow tired of asking for forgiveness, but Jesus never tires of forgiving.’ His words were so welcoming and consoling.” 

Photos of Pope Francis from the Church of San Pio V in Rome, Italy
Photos of Pope Francis during his visit to the Church of San Pio V submitted by Assumption students and faculty.

The Assumption students who were able to see Pope Francis were overjoyed at the experience, having not expected to see him in person during their time studying abroad.

“Seeing the Pope in person was such an amazing experience. I never expected to have the opportunity to be just a few feet away from him,” said Hayley Chenoweth, a member of the class of 2026.  “It really fits with the study abroad experience because you never know what opportunities you will have in another country or what new experiences you will be exposed to.” 

“I did not expect to see the Pope so close as we did when we visited San Pio V … it was an unexpected treat that made my experience in Rome better,” said Thomas Gooey, a member of the class of 2026. “I found the atmosphere in the church to be one of the most unique I’ve ever experienced due to the enthusiasm the audience had for the Pope’s sermon.” 

“It was certainly an amazing experience to be in the presence of such an influential and important role model for my faith,” said Max Fuoco, a member of the class of 2026. Fuoco’s mother and brothers happened to be visiting him at the Rome campus during the papal visit and were also able to attend. “Hearing his homily being delivered left a lasting impression on my family and I.” 

Along with having the chance to see Pope Francis, students who study on the Rome Campus also have many other incredible opportunities; for example, students on the Rome Campus also recently attended a Mass in the chapel at the Crypt of Saint Peter’s Basilica, where the remains of the Apostle Peter are located, and were also able to see a view of Rome from the Cupola of Michelangelo.

“This was an example of the beautiful serendipity that can happen when in Rome,” said Lazar. “It was a beautiful affirmation of the kinds of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that can happen at the Rome Campus.”

“I’ve heard of many people going to see the Pope but in this case we got so close, almost even to shake his hand,” said Evan Mailhot, a member of the class of 2026. “These kinds of memories are one of a kind.” 

Learn more about how you can have your own experiences of a lifetime at Assumption’s Rome Campus here. Applications for the summer semester close March 15, and applications for the fall semester close April 15. For more information about the program, see the Academics and Admissions (Rome Campus) page.