On Saturday, May 18, 2024, the President of the Polish Republic Andrzej DUDA, and his wife Agata, made a private but welcome visit to the friars of the Vatican Penitentiary.

They met with the friars during their state visit to Italy to meet with Italian President Sergio MATTARELLA at the Quirinale, in Rome, and to attend observances marking the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino (May 18, 1944), in which brave soldiers from Poland achieved victory over the Germans. The 1051 Poles who died on the battlefield are today buried in the cemetery at Monte Cassino.
During his visit to Rome, the President of Poland made a stop at the Vatican, where he laid a wreath of flowers on the tomb of Pope St. John Paul II. The day coincided with the 104th birthday of the pope, who was born on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland.
While at St. Peter’s Basilica, the president learned that the Conventual Franciscan Penitentiaries were celebrating the 250th anniversary of their presence at the Vatican (1774-2024). Therefore, he decided to visit the friars on the fourth floor of the Palace of the Tribunal where they reside in order to thank them for the valuable service they perform for the Church, in the spirit of St. Francis.
Traditional group photos were taken with the fourteen penitentiaries, among whom are five friars from Poland. In addition, there are three sister from Poland who serve at the Vatican Penitentiary. Afterwards, gifts were exchanged. The president gave the friars a painted portrait of John Paul II. The Rector of the Vatican College of Penitentiaries, Friar Vincenzo COSOTTI, explained the meaning of the logo of the 250th anniversary to the president and gave him an icon depicting Christ Pantocrator, some bitters from the Bianchi distillery in Marsala (Sicily) Italy, and an assortment of cookies from the Tumminello confectionery company in Castelbuono, Sicily.
Before leaving for Monte Cassino, the President asked the friars about the work they do, thanked them for their service and wished that they might continue, with apostolic zeal, to administer the sacrament of reconciliation to the many faithful who come from all over the world as pilgrims to St. Peter’s Basilica.