Having so much world-famous art housed in Rome's churches and chapels has risked turning the city's sacred spaces into sightseer circuses.
Pope Francis will celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper at a Rome prison and wash the feet of male and female inmates.
The Vatican announced Wednesday that the pope will visit the Rebibbia detention facility on the outskirts of the capital April 2, then celebrate Mass in Our Father Church on the grounds of the complex. During the Mass, the pope will wash the feet of male inmates from Rebibbia and female inmates from a nearby women's prison.
The Lenten journey of conversion requires Christians to rediscover the "deepest truth" about themselves, cast off their masks and take on the courage to live truth, a prominent Carmelite priest told the pope and Vatican officials.
In the first days of Lenten spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia, the church's central administration, Carmelite Fr. Bruno Secondin drew from the life of the prophet Elijah to invite Vatican officials to reflect on whether their hearts "really belong to the Lord" or whether they rely on external gestures.
The Italian government is on high alert after threats from the Islamic State called Italy "the nation signed with the blood of the cross."
Italy is one of a handful of major Western counties that has not been victim of a large-scale terror assault since the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S.
Italian officials fear extremists could enter the country amid the growing tide of refugees arriving by boat from North Africa. About 500 extra troops have been stationed to guard symbolic targets in Rome and monitor the streets of the capital for suspicious activity.
The academic institute moved operations from Germany to Rome in an effort to influence the church's work on the sex abuse globally.
The day Francis announced he would be making Italian Archbishop Luigi De Magistris a cardinal, the archbishop was doing what he usually did in retirement on Sundays: He was administering the sacrament of confession in the cathedral of Cagliari, his hometown.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on Tuesday blessed a new addition to the Pontifical North American College, a seminary in Rome.
Pope Francis marked his 78th birthday by giving hundreds of sleeping bags to the homeless in Rome, Vatican officials said Thursday.
Just one month after announcing plans to build showers for the homeless in St. Peter's Square, the pope called for 400 sleeping bags with the papal ensign to be distributed to people living on the streets.
Major sporting events could be held at the Vatican if Rome wins its bid to host the Summer Olympics in 2024.
Pope Francis, a keen soccer fan, is reported to be enthusiastic about the idea. He is expected to meet the head of Italy's National Olympic Committee, Giovanni Malago, and other officials at the Vatican on Friday after a Mass to commemorate the committee's 100th anniversary.
Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, former head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said he believed Francis would back plans to hold events such as archery in the Vatican gardens.
"During his 20 years as pastor in a town on the outskirts of Turin, many paintings, statues, furniture and other objects have been lost and then found in private homes."