Pope looks on in awe at babies in maternity ward in Rome

Wearing surgical scrubs, Pope Francis visited a maternity ward in Rome on Friday, before visiting a hospice for the terminally ill.

He seemed particularly enchanted and in awe of the tiny babies crying, sleeping, and squirming in their cots in the neonatology unit of San Giovanni hospital, leaving papal medals in each crib he visited.

Francis then stopped at the "Villa Speranza" hospital for the terminally ill, where he prayed in the hospice's chapel.

The visits were part of Pope Francis's Holy Year of Mercy, a year in which he spends one Friday afternoon of each month performing an act of mercy outside of the Vatican.

The Vatican said the purpose of his visits was to illustrate the importance of respecting life at all stages, from birth until natural death.