Love is the best medicine, Pope Francis tells pediatric patients
Pope Francis meets with the community of Rome’s Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital at the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, Dec. 15, 2016. L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO
VATICAN— The caresses born of love are the most important medicine, Pope Francis told a group of patients, families, and doctors from Rome’s Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital on Monday.
“There is the danger, the risk of forgetting the most important medicine that only a family can give: caresses! It is a form of medicine that is too costly, because to have it, to be able to do this, you must give everything, you must give all your heart, all your love,” Pope Francis said April 10. “And you give them this affection, the caresses of the doctors, the nurses, the director, everyone.”
The patients, ages 5-18, met with Pope Francis at the Vatican, where he told them that “Each of you is a story. Not only the sick children, but also the doctors, the nurses, those who visit, the families.”
He recalled his Dec. 15, 2016 meeting with the group, saying that on that occasion the physicians “introduced the people to me. They all knew everyone’s names: ‘This one is fighting this disease…’.”
“They also knew what was happening in their lives. And I perceived … that more than a hospital this is a family, that is one of the words you said. The most important thing was the name, the person, and only at the end was the disease mentioned, but almost incidentally, a secondary matter. It is a family, isn’t it?”
The Pope also recalled that “you were a bit ashamed of getting up and not looking good in front of the camera, and the director, who is a bit like a mother, came up to you and said, ‘Come’, and she encouraged you. This is the beauty of a family, this is beautiful.”
“Entering in a hospital always makes us afraid, and I see this when I come up to some children, not all, but some very little ones, and they see me in white, and they begin to cry; they think it is a doctor who has come to give them a vaccine, and they cry and are afraid. I stroke them a few times and they calm down. Because there is always the function of the hospital … one must do this …”
He said Bambino Jesu “has grown a lot lately, and has become a family. … The child, the patient finds a family there. Family and community, two words that you have said and repeated, and I wish to thank you for this, because Bambin Gesù offers witness, human witness. Human.”
“It is a Catholic hospital, and to be Catholic, first you must be human, and you give human witness today. Please, continue always on this path, grow in this way.”
Bambino Gesu (which translates to the child Jesus) is the largest pediatric hospital and research center in Europe. Owned by the Holy See and known as the Pope’s hospital, Bambino Gesu also serves children from all over the world.
The Holy Father is a popular figure at the hospital, where children write him letters and know many details of his life, including words from his homilies and facts about his home country and favorite soccer team.
Pope Francis has visited the facility several times, as did Blessed Paul VI, St. John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.