I know that less and less of my blog is original these days, but I can't say anything better than this:
The prison exhibit was the most popular at Meeting 2008 in Rimini. I kept coming back to see when the crowds would thin out to get better pictures, but this is the way it was at 10:00pm last night and all though the week.
We had a guided tour in English the other day by a young man who worked as a guard in the Padua Prison for two years. He spoke of the dignity of the prisoners, the need for rehabilitation and the freedom some find even behind bars through the community of believers in Christ. He talked about how they walked the Way of the Cross through the prison corridors, and at the end they brought the cross to the bishop and asked him to carry it.
When we entered the exhibit, we walked through these barred gates and were given passes by a guard in order to offer a small impression of prison as a place.
There were several fine art reproductions depicting prison, and this one is from Andrea Pisano of the disciples of St. John visiting him in prison. It is especially appropriate today on the feast of St. John the Baptist's martyrdom.
The faces depicted in this exhibit are friends of ours (the Communion and Liberation movement) who are currently serving time in prison. This was almost the most moving part of the exhibit (I'll explain). It seems these are people we should have known, but who have been hidden away. These portraits gave me the same impression of depth and closeness as those of the Carthusian monks who look at us in the film Into Great Silence.
The following contribution and photo are of Joshua, a friend of ours from the U.S. I am sorry I can't translate the message here. But instead, you can find a letter of his in English here offering his witness.
At the end of the exhibit, we walk into the Patisserie or Bakery. The people serving us free samples and selling baked goods are actually prisoners and guards, dressed identically as to not be distinguishable.