When Pope Francis visits Philadelphia next month for the World Meeting of Families, it will be one of the biggest events the city has ever seen. Millions are expected to converge on the “City of Brotherly Love” to at least catch a glimpse of the pope. While, the main attraction is the meeting, the pope is making it his first priority to visit some of Philadelphia’s inmates.
In preparation of Pope Francis’ arrival, a group of inmates has devoted months of their time to building a chair for him to sit on when he comes. Made and refinished in the Philadelphia Industrial Corrections Center, it stands at six feet and is hand-carved out of walnut. The chair’s next stop is the site of papal visit will take place, Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. Here, it will be be upholstered.
Pope Francis will be visiting Curran-Fromhold on the morning of September 27, his final day in town. He will appear before 100 inmates of varying faiths and their families. Inmates will be selected based on their records good behavior. It is reported that only some of the inmates who worked on the chair will be selected, but some found the experience to be rewarding. “It made me honored because I’m one of the ones that work hard, and they noticed,” said 21-year-old Rameen Perrin, who has been locked up for 13 months on drug charges.
Pope Francis has made a point to weave prison ministry into his papal duties. NBC News reports:
Francis has made prison ministry a focus of his pontificate. He meets frequently with inmates and has washed prisoners’ feet during pre-Easter rituals. In July, he visited a notorious Bolivian prison where he urged inmates to help one another and exhorted staff to rehabilitate prisoners, not humiliate them.