By Lydia O'Kane
The St Louis Hospital in Bangkok was founded in 1898 by the Apostolic Victor of Siam, Archbishop Louis Vey. Its mission is based on the motto “Where love is, there God is”. Today the hospital is run by a team of doctors, nurses and researchers with the help of state of the art medical equipment.
Addressing around 700 staff in the hospital’s auditorium on Thursday, Pope Francis said it was a blessing for him “to witness at first hand this valuable service that the Church offers to the Thai people, especially to those most in need.”
Ubi caritas, Deus ibi est
Making reference to the hospital’s motto, the Pope said that “it is precisely in the exercise of charity that we Christians are called not only to demonstrate that we are missionary disciples, but also to test our own fidelity, and that of our institutions, to that discipleship.”
“You are missionary disciples in the field of health care”, highlighted the Pontiff, who are capable of finding God in every human being, especially the elderly, the young and those most vulnerable.
“Seen in this way”, he added, “you carry out one of the greatest works of mercy, for your commitment to health care goes far beyond the simple and praiseworthy practice of medicine.”
Embracing human life
“It is about welcoming and embracing human life as it arrives at the Hospital’s emergency room, needing to be treated with the merciful care born of love and respect for the dignity of each human person”, he said.
“The healing process”, Pope Francis underlined, “should rightly be seen as a powerful anointing capable of restoring human dignity in every situation, a gaze that grants dignity and provides support.”
During his address, the Pope noted how at times the work of hospital staff “can prove burdensome and tiring.” He commented that, “this speaks to us of the need for a health care ministry in which not only patients, but every member of this community can feel cared for and supported in his or her mission.”
Jesus is close to us in our frailty
“Each of us knows how illness brings with it questions that dig deep”, emphasized Pope Francis. “Our first reaction may be to rebel and even experience moments of bewilderment and desolation.”
But, “by uniting ourselves to Jesus in His passion”, stressed the Pope, “we discover the power of His closeness to our frailty and our wounds.”
At the end of his meeting with staff, Pope Francis made a private visit to the sick and disabled at the hospital, as a way, he said, “of accompanying them, however briefly, in their pain.”
The Pope also presented the hospital a with a copy of a fragment of a fresco depicting the Madonna and Child.