(Source: MJ/Robin Gomes, Vatican News)

Pope Francis on Thursday handed over 30 respirators purchased in recent days to the Office of Papal Charities to be donated to intensive care units of hospitals in Italy and Spain that are most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The bishops of the individual dioceses will hand them over to the hospitals that need them most.

– Concrete expression of Christian charity

This gesture of the Holy Father, which comes ahead of the prayer service that he is presiding over in the Vatican Friday evening, takes on a very special significance, amid the pandemic that is raging worldwide.

It is a concrete expression of Christian charity in feeling together with others and willing to extend a hand to those in need.

The Office of Papal Charities is the department of the Holy See charged with exercising charity to the poor in the name of the Holy Father. 

Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski is currently the Apostolic Almoner, or papal almsgiver, in charge of the Office of Papal Charities.

– Giving with love

“Prayer without charity is not complete,” said Cardinal Krajewski, calling on all to donate according to one’s means.

The purchase of the respirators is a sign that people can make themselves available to others in need. 

The cardinal pointed out that a lady without much means gave him 50 hand-sewn masks to be donated to the poor.

He said,

“It’s a simple gesture but of great importance, because that’s exactly what is needed: small gestures that come from the heart.”

– Pope reaching out

Earlier, the Office of Papal Charities, in collaboration the Missionary Centre of the Chinese Church in Italy, sent hundreds of thousands of masks to Hubei, Zhejiand and Fujian provinces of China, where the virus was raging.

This week, the Pope’s almsgiver visited two communities of nuns in Rome hit by the virus. He carried with him some milk products as a sign of the Pope’s closeness with the nuns. 

Cardinal Krajewski’s office continues to offer shower facilities, sleeping quarters, and food assistance to the poor and homeless who often sleep rough around St. Peter’s Square in Rome.  

“Don’t ignore the poor Lazarus who knocks at your door,” he appealed to all who encounter a homeless person.

– Francis to celebrate Easter without physical presence of faithful

In the meantime, there will be no exception to the schedule of Pope Francis regarding restrictions as demanded by measures against the coronavirus pandemic.

Such will be the liturgical celebrations that the pontiff will preside over during Holy Week, without the physical presence of the faithful.

Holy Week, which is the culmination of the 40-day Lenten period, is the most solemn period for Christians worldwide, who celebrate the solemn mysteries of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.

“Following the extraordinary situation that has arisen, due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and taking into account the provisions of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, through a Decree dated 25 March 2020, an update was needed regarding the upcoming liturgical celebrations presided over by the Holy Father Pope Francis, with regard to the calendar and participation”, said a statement released on Friday by Monsignor Guido Marini, the Master of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.  

The communique states that Pope Francis will celebrate all of the Holy Week Rites in St. Peter’s Basilica, starting with Palm Sunday at 11.00 am, 5 April.

As for the Triduum, or the 3 days preceding Easter, the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper will begin at 6:00 pm on April 9. 

The following day, Good Friday, he will preside over the celebration of the Lord’s Passion. However, that night, the Stations of the Cross will not be held at the traditional site of the Colosseum, but in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican at 9:00 pm.

Likewise, the Easter Vigil Mass will be held in the Vatican Basilica at 9:00 pm on 11 April. The following day, the Holy Father will celebrate Easter Sunday Mass in the basilica and conclude with the “Urbi et Orbi” message and blessing.

More on Novena on the Pope’s gestures and prayers during the coronavirus pandemic:

On coronavirus, beyond, Pope urges world to embrace “solidarity, caring and welcome” of “culture of life”

In special video, Francis pleads on coronavirus battle: “Let us stay united”

Pope gifts fresh milk, yoghurt to nuns in coronavirus lockdown as Orthodox head expresses solidarity with Vatican, Italy

Francis warns businesses over coronavirus: “It’s not the time to fire people, it’s the time to welcome them”

“Roots, memory, brotherhood and hope”: Pope points way out of virus crisis as Italian president thanks him for “fatherly witness”

Pope encourages Italians battered by coronavirus: “Let us help each other hold fast to what really matters”


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.