During July of 2020, even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a thousand pairs of shoes and a thousand traditional Easter cakes were donated to the thousand inmates housed at the Regina Coeli Prison in Rome. This gesture of concrete solidarity was joyfully appreciated by the prisoners.
On the initiative of the Italian Province of St. Francis of Assisi (Central Italy), the Aiutiamoli a Vivere ONG [non-profit] Foundation in Terni, Italy, delivered a thousand pairs of orthopedic shoes to the prison chaplains. “Aiutiamoli a Vivere” [help them live] is headed by Dr. Fabrizio PACIFICI. The shoes were donated by the PODARTIS Shoe Factory in Treviso, Italy, and are worth 150 euros each. They will be distributed to the prisoners on the basis of merit and real need.
Of course, there were also shoes for our two chaplains, Friar Vittorio TRANI and Renzo DEGNI. Each morning, they pass through the prison entrance and walk far and wide covering its eight different sections. The Foundation also donated shoes to the friars of the San Giacomo Friary in Rome, who occasionally do pastoral ministry at the prison. It also donated hundreds of pairs to prisons in Pesaro, Ancona and Osimo, Italy, where we have Conventual Franciscan chaplains.
Besides the shoes, the Regina Coeli Prison received a thousand traditional Easter cakes to sweeten the inmates’ breakfast. The cakes were donated by FIASCONARO SRL, a Sicilian pastry company founded by three brothers in Castelbuono, Italy. The company also donated a thousand cakes to Pope Francis for distribution to the poor of Rome, and another five hundred cakes to the Bishop of Aversa, Italy, for the Terra dei Fuochi [Land of Fire] charitable institution.
This “solidarity without borders” will certainly provide some relief for the many prisoners now serving their sentences.
Friar Paolo FIASCONARO, Chronicler of the San Giacomo Friary