Fifteen children from the Central African Republic accompanied by their new Cardinal, the Archbishop of Bangui, Dieudonné Nzapalainga, were amongst those present on Thursday morning for a special audience with Pope Francis.
It was special because the children the Pope met are
patients of the Vatican’s Children’s Hospital: the ‘Bambino Gesù’.
A press release from the Hospital reveals that the first few rows in
the Paul VI Hall were reserved for some 150 young patients; many of them
come from Italy but some of them, it says, came from the “peripheries of
They came from far, having travelled to this medical center of
excellence and research from countries such as Argentina, Venezuela,
Pakistan, Nepal, Russia, Lebanon, Moldavia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Albania,
Serbia, Poland, Congo and Nigeria as well as from the Central African
Hospital doctors and medical staff, employees, volunteers and the
families of the little patients were present together with the
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
During the audience, the President of the ‘Bambino Gesù’, Mariella
Enoc, talked about how the Pediatric Hospital has become the largest
of its kind in Europe, with connections to leading international centers
in the sector.
She explained how, in various ways, the hospital staff of almost
2,500 people treats and cares for a large number of patients, and of how
over 1.550.000 healthcare services are provided each year to children
and adolescents from all over the world.
Enoc also talked about how the hospital, which was founded in
1869, has developed a ‘Bambino Gesù System’ that stretches well beyond
regional boundaries with the establishment of Centers in Southern Italy
that aim to eliminate the long "journeys of hope" that weigh not only on
young patients but also on their families, with demanding relocations
that have significant financial and social costs for all.
Equally important are the Hospital’s international missions in
Today the ‘Bambino Gesù’ is present in 12 countries,
with the goal of providing care and passing on its experience in the
poorest areas of the world.
It is also active with special cooperation
projects in Jordan, Palestine and the Central African Republic.