Pope Francis meeting the community of the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in the Paul VI Hall Pope Francis meeting the community of the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in the Paul VI Hall  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Pope to Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital: 'Your work is a mission'

Welcoming the community of the “Pope’s Hospital” in the Paul VI Hall Pope Francis encourages them to continue their “blessed work” of curing ill children from across the world.

By Lisa Zengarini

Around 3,000 people from the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital met with Pope Francis on Saturday to mark the 100th anniversary of the internationally renowned hospital being donated to the Vatican by the Salviati family.

Among them some 200 children and their parents, including children from countries at war, such as Ukraine and Gaza who are receiving the medical treatment they were unable to get in their home countries.

Expressing his warm gratitude to the Bambin Gesù staff and benefactors, Pope Francis reflected on the “richness” of this institution, underscoring three features: gift, care and community.


In his speech, which was read out by Monsignor Filippo Ciampanelli, he recalled that gift has underpinned its mission all along its history. An anecdote has it that the children of the Duchess Arabella Salviati who found the hospital in 1869, made their own piggy bank where they put money for the most destitute, for sick children and the most needy.

That story, noted the Pope, “tells us that this great work is also based on humble gifts, like that offered by those children for the benefit of their sick peers.”  

And this generosity continues still today with the many benefactors who sponsor the hospital, which also welcomes needy children from all over the world regardless of their backgrounds, and has allowed the recent opening of a new Palliative Care Centre near Rome.

“In all of this,” the Pope remarked, “gift is an indispensable element of your being and your action.”


A second feature the Pope highlighted was medical care which is constantly improved by the hospital’s biomedical research.  

Pope Francis encouraged its scientific teams to carry out  this research “with special attention towards the most fragile”, such as patients suffering from serious or rare diseases, but also to share their expertise and knowledge with everyone, “especially where there is the greatest need”, for example in Africa Asia and the Middle East.

He also praised the generous support given by the Bambin Gesù  to  the young patients’  families. “This – he said – is a qualifying element, which should never be overlooked, even if I know that sometimes you work in difficult conditions. Rather we sacrifice something else, but not kindness and tenderness.”


The third aspect highlighted by Pope Francis was community. The hospital’s  mission, he noted, is carried out by several people “in a different way”:  for some it involves a life-long dedication  for others offering their time as volunteers; for others still donating blood or milk  for new-borns and even of organs of deceased people or cells and tissues, by living people  “What emerges is a ‘doing together’, where the different gifts contribute to the good of the young patients.”

Pope Francis has visited the Bambin Gesù and its branches several times. Concluding his speech he admitted that during those visits, he had mixed feelings of pain for the suffering of sick children and their parents; but at the same time “of  great hope, seeing all that is being done there to treat them.” Concluding, he therefore warmly thanked the staff and encouraged them go forward in their “blessed work.”

“I bless you from the bottom of my heart and pray for you.”

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16 March 2024, 11:46