Pope Francis has donated 35 ventilators in recent weeks to various countries, especially those with poor health care systems, as a gesture of his closeness and support in their fight against the COVID-19 virus.

The Office of Papal Charities announced the Pope’s recent donations in a statement on Friday.

These ventilators, the statement reads, were distributed to the countries through their Apostolic Nunciatures in the following manner: four for Haiti, two for the Dominican Republic, two for Bolivia, four for Brazil, three for Colombia, two for Ecuador and three for Honduras, three were sent to Mexico, four to Venezuela, two to Cameroon, two to Bangladesh, two to Ukraine and two to Zimbabwe (through the local Episcopal Conference).

Gifts electric bicycle for charity auction for sick children’s journeys to shrines around the world

In a further show of his generosity, the pontiff also donated this week a new electric bicycle for a charity auction in Italy whose proceeds will go to help sick children make pilgrimages to Lourdes and other shrines around the world.

The Pope’s contribution of the bike aids the work of UNITALSI, the Italian National Union of Transport for the Ill to Lourdes and International Sanctuaries.

The charitable organization is dedicated to assisting the sick in travelling to Lourdes and other shrines around the world.

The proceeds of the auction will be used to bring children from the cancer ward of Rome’s Gemelli University Hospital to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France.

“The Holy Father has always been close to children”, said Preziosa Terroni, the president of UNITALSI’s Rome-Lazio section, which organized the auction.

She recalled in particular a private meeting at the Casa Santa Marta, when Pope Francis was able to meet with 22 seriously ill children being treated at Gemelli Hospital.

Pope Francis’s second personal secretary, Monsignor Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, delivered the bicycle to UNITALSI, with the hope that it would be transformed “into an instrument of solidarity”.

In their announcement of the donation, UNITALSI described the Pope’s gift as “a further gesture of tenderness on the part of the Holy Father, who throughout the years of his pontificate has graciously expressed, in various ways, his closeness to UNITALSI”.

Solidarity with disabled former Italian race car driver involved in serious accident

Lastly and also this week, the Pope sent a letter to paralympic champion Alex Zanardi, who was recently involved in a serious car accident.

In a letter published in the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, the pontiff thanked Zanardi for “giving strength to those who had lost it”.

The Formula 1 race car driver lost his legs after a terrible accident on the race track in 2001. His story is a testimony to the value of restarting and “a lesson of humanity”, the pontiff said.

In his letter, Pope Francis thanked the sportsman for his ability to instill courage even in situations of great suffering.

“Dear Alessandro,” he wrote: “your story is an example of how to start again after a sudden halt. Through sport you have demonstrated how to live life as protagonists, making disability a lesson in humanity. Thank you for giving strength to those who had lost it. In this painful moment I am close to you, I pray for you and your family. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you”.

Pope Francis also expressed his closeness in prayer to Zanardi, who has been in the intensive care unit of the university polyclinic Santa Maria alle Scotte in Siena since last Friday, after he was involved in a very serious handbike accident. The accident occured during a charity race in the town of Pienza.

Earlier this month, Zanardi lent his support to the charity auction, “We run together”, promoted by the Pope, with the aim of raising funds for the hospitals of Bergamo and Brescia, at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19.

(With reporting by Vatican News)

More on Novena on the Pope’s charity during COVID-19:

Pope sets up 1 million euro relief fund for workers in Rome struggling due to pandemic

Pope donates items to be auctioned off for COVID-19-hit hospitals in northern Italy


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.