By Robin Gomes
During the ongoing coronavirus emergency, Pope Francis has been making many concrete gestures of assistance and solidarity by donating money and medical equipment to countries, organizations and healthcare centres dealing with the infection.
According to data from the Spanish Ministry of Health, there are currently 207,634 cases in the country, while 98,731 people have been cured. There have been over 23,000 deaths.
Madrid's San Raffaele Hospital
The Pope’s latest gesture has been to Madrid, the hardest hit in Spain’s battle against the pandemic.
Since the outbreak, Madrid’s San Raffaele Hospital has assisted 3000 patients, of which 450 have been treated the wards and 23 in intensive care, thus doubling its normal capacity.
Founded in 1892 and managed by the religious Brothers of St. John of God, the hospital has been in the forefront of Spain’s battle against the virus in the capital.
Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the former Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, delivered three respirators for intensive care as a gift from Pope Francis.
The Filipino Archbishop, together with Cardinal Carlos Osoro Sierra, Archbishop of Madrid, delivered the respirators in the presence of Madrid Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida and the Auxiliary Bishop José Cobo Cano Madrid.
During the ceremony, Archbishop Auza expressed the closeness and affection of the Holy Father, his concern for the victims of the pandemic and its negative repercussions on the social and economic sectors.
The Mayor of Madrid expressed his gratitude for the gift and also for all the work being done by the Church, by the archdiocese and by Caritas, and noted that thanks to joint action with the city Administration, “We are reaching many families, and in this way, we are trying to alleviate their pain".
The ceremony ended with a moment of prayer for the victims of the pandemic and the sick in the Hospital Chapel.
Speaking to Vatican News after the ceremony, Archbishop Auza said that they were “very happily surprised by this gift of the Holy Father, which has been well received.”
San Rafael, a “very big and referenced hospital” in Madrid, the Filipino archbishop said, has been “almost exclusively dedicated, since the start of the crisis, to the coronavirus victims”.
He said that the hospital is very grateful for the Holy Father’s gift which was received by the Provincial of the Brothers of St. John of God.
The gift included 3 respirators and some 9 or 10 boxes of medical instruments and protective equipment for those working with the victims of the coronavirus.
The Apostolic Nuncio said that Pope’s gift is also a recognition of the work of San Rafael Hospital since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Madrid, the epicentre in Spain.
Archbishop Auza thanked the Holy Father on behalf of San Rafael Hospital.
Italy, Spain and France have been Europe’s hardest-hit countries. They are all currently preparing to lift or ease restrictions put into place to curb the spread of the virus, but hospitals are still struggling to cope with the huge influx of patients.