Hospital Sign, Bambino Gesù, Rome  (Vatican Media)

By Sr Francine-Marie Cooper

Mar 16 2024

Over 3,000 employees from the six campuses of the Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital, together with patients and their families, are set to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its donation to the Holy See with Pope Francis on Saturday.

In a press statement released on Thursday, the Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital informed journalists of an upcoming audience with Pope Francis on Saturday, Mar 16.

The hospital explained the audience takes place to mark “the 100th anniversary of the donation of the Hospital to the Holy See by the Salviati family, who founded it in 1869.”

The hospital was donated to the Holy See on Feb 20, 1924.

“The Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital, the first Italian hospital completely dedicated to children, has become for all ‘the Pope’s Hospital,’” the press release noted.

Further, it emphasized that “the hospital on the Gianicolo Hill is now a leading academic centre for paediatric research and care in Europe.”

The hospital now offers care at 6 sites in Rome and around Rome, “offering 627 beds and managing approximately 95,000 emergency room visits, 30,000 hospitalizations, over 32,000 surgical and interventional procedures, and 2.5 million outpatient services annually.”

The press release describes how the hospital also helps many foreign-born children, especially from countries torn by war.

“Every year, over 300 patients are welcomed on humanitarian grounds by the Hospital, which is also involved in international cooperation projects in 18 countries for the training of healthcare personnel and the provision of highly specialized interventions.”

Day filled with celebrations

The hospital also announced the day’s program, which will include a papal audience.

“Participants in the audience will gather in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall in the morning, where volunteers from various associations collaborating with Bambino Gesù will entertain the children, starting at 8:30 a.m.”

After the Pope arrives and a group of 50 children unfurl a banner with the slogan “Lives that help life,” which will accompany the various initiatives that will characterize 2024 as the “year of giving”, Pope Francis will give a speech.

The Pope will then greet the president of Bambino Gesù, Tiziano Onesti, Duchess Maria Grazia Salviati, heiress of the family that founded the Hospital, and the young patients with their families.

Throughout the weeks leading up to the audience, patients of the hospital have written down their thoughts for the Pope.

A basket containing these messages will be handed over to Pope Francis at the end of the audience.

Mr. Onesti said: “We sincerely thank Pope Francis for the opportunity for this meeting, because by welcoming us for this occasion, he once again demonstrates his closeness and affection for ‘our’ Hospital, confirming us in our commitment.”

He expressed his gratitude also to “the doctors, nurses, and all healthcare personnel who cannot attend the audience because they are engaged in hospital service that never stops.”

The president explained that through their service of “treating children and young people from all over the world,” they “take care of our future.”

The audience will be broadcast live by Vatican Media and covered on Bambino Gesù’s social media channels. – Vatican News