A Prison Yard Flash Mob for Pope Francis? You've Got to See It to Believe It

10/30/2015 AT 11:30 AM EDT

Pope is pop. Hallelujah.

Inmates at Italy's largest women prison gathered together in prayer and song on Thursday to perform a flash mob dance in honor of Pope Francis.

In the courtyard of Rome's Ribibbia Prison, the women danced in unison to the sounds of "Pope is Pop," a song written about the beloved pontiff by Italian composer Igor Nogarotto.

As the women stepped, spun and waved their arms, the lyrics "Tonight you are not alone, Francis is there everywhere, hallelujah, hallelujah," played over the loudspeaker.

"This is a special dance in honor of Pope Francis because they want to tell him how close they feel to him," Ida del Grosso, director of the prison, tells AFP News Agency. " 'Mercy' is a word which carries a lot of weight in prison. We're dealing with people who've made mistakes and who are serving their sentence – but they also want to be forgiven, so they can enter society as better people."

Gisele, a Brazilian inmate, tells the agency, "First of all I want to thank God for giving us strength in a place like this. When you see us today we may seem all happy and cheerful, but only God knows how we feel inside. Our hearts are crying and screaming for our families and for all this sadness."

"When we are dancing we feel a little bit of freedom and an incentive to get through this."
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