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Pope surrounded by young patients of the Bambino Gesu Hospital Pope surrounded by young patients of the Bambino Gesu Hospital  (Vatican Media)

Pope to Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital: ‘Blessed are the hands that heal’

Pope Francis urges staff of the Bambino Gesu Hospital not to spare themselves as they heal sick children and to redouble their efforts to find cures for rare diseases.

By Devin Watkins

The Children’s Hospital is marking its 150th anniversary this year, and Pope Francis expressed the Holy See’s unwavering support for this “venerable Institution.”

Meeting with the administration, staff, doctors, nurses, and paramedics on Saturday, the Pope described the founding of Italy’s first children’s hospital in 1869 as “an intuition and a gift.”

He said Arabella Salviati had the intuition of a woman and a mother, and the generosity to create an institution dedicated to children.

Moral authority of children

The Bambino Gesu Hospital was donated to the Vatican in 1924. The Pope said that made it the patrimony of the world’s children, since the Catholic Church extends to the furthest corners of the earth.

“Thus was born a grand and precious institution, which is avant-garde and focused on the future.”

Pope Francis said the hospital’s true identity is derived from “the moral authority of sick and suffering children.”

“May the moral authority of children always urge you to be faithful to the original vocation of this Hospital, and be the criteria upon which you base your decisions for the future.”

Blessed hands that heal

In a written testimony distributed to those in the audience, a Venezuelan mother told the story of how the Bambino Gesu Hospital found a cure for her ailing son.

So Pope Francis reflected on how she spoke about “God’s blessing and ‘the blessed and marvelous hands’ that welcomed and healed her son.”

He said the capacity to heal others is a gift, and urged medical staff to “never let your professionalism and zeal be lacking.”

And he set aside his prepared remarks for a moment to bless the hands of all the doctors and nurses present in the Paul VI Hall.

No cure without research

The Pope went on to express appreciation for the cutting-edge medical research going on at the Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital.

“The better the research, the better the care,” he said. “There is no cure without research. There is no future in medicine without research.”

Finally, Pope Francis praised efforts to diagnose rare medical conditions and complex pathologies, as well as the passion staff put into their work.

“I would like you never to lose the ability to see the suffering face of a child even behind a simple sample to be analyzed, and to hear the cry of parents from within your laboratories.”

Listen to our report
16 November 2019, 14:17