Each August the locals flee Rome as a result of warmth to vacation both on the sea or within the mountains, leaving the town abandoned – Romans typically say solely “canines and Individuals” will be present in Rome in the course of the month.

Nonetheless, this 12 months, the COVID-19 pandemic means not even American vacationers can noticed within the Everlasting Metropolis.

“Today are days of trip: It may be a time to revive the physique, but in addition the spirit via moments devoted to prayer, to silence and to enjoyable contact with the great thing about nature, God’s reward,” Pope Francis mentioned on Sunday, on the finish of the weekly Angelus prayer.

“This could not enable us to neglect the issues there are because of COVID: Many households wouldn’t have work, have misplaced work, and don’t have anything to eat,” the pontiff continued. “Works of charity and drawing close to to those households also needs to accompany our summer season break.”

The pope’s proper hand man for charity, Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, took the pope’s recommendation to coronary heart and used his trip to take 11 homeless individuals from the streets of Rome to a seaside not removed from the Italian capital.

“We took two vehicles in order that we will chat in the course of the journey and headed to the seaside,” Krajewski advised Crux.


Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewki, in the direction of the middle, with a grey t-shirt and blue swimming shorts – and a gaggle of homeless males on the seaside earlier this August. (Credit score: courtesy of Cardinal Konrad Krajewki/Crux.)

The official title of the cardinal is the Papal Almoner – liable for giving out alms for the poor in Rome within the title of the pope. Since his appointment in 2013, he has reinvigorated the workplace along with his power, and he can typically be seen giving meals to the homeless, and the Almoner’s workplace has additionally established showers, well being clinics, and even barbers for the poorest of the town.

However he doesn’t solely see to their materials wants, he additionally arranges visits to the Vatican Museums, live shows, and events, together with his newest tour to the seaside.

“We offer seaside towels, blankets, swimwear and every thing else you want for a day on the seaside, in order that they actually get to go on trip,” Krajewski mentioned.

After spending the day within the seaside city of Palidoro, simply outdoors Rome, the group had pizza collectively and later headed again to Rome.

“The poor say the pizza is the most important deal with,” the Polish cardinal mentioned. “Not solely as a result of it’s the ‘largest one on this planet’ as they are saying, however as a result of they know the pope is paying!”

He laughed as he made the remark.

“These conversations on the desk are actually valuable. Sharing the meal helps them to open up, actually share their tales,” Krajewski advised Crux.

But the early days of August weren’t all enjoyable and seaside video games for the papal almoner.

He had been struggling to get 18 ventilators to Brazil, the place the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has killed greater than 108,000 individuals.

The ventilators had been a present to the nation from Pope Francis, however the Polish cardinal was tasked with getting the units there safely.

“I couldn’t consider how tough it was to discover a option to ship these ventilators to Brazil,” Krajewski advised Crux. “We had been attempting for weeks with out success – ventilators are very exhausting to move so far-off – they will’t be placed on high of one another as a result of they’ll break in order that they demand a whole lot of area.”

The seek for a provider made the duty nearly not possible, however the Polish cardinal generally is a cussed man on the subject of serving to others, with a community of different equally cussed individuals to assist him out.

“I referred to as a priest in Poland who was our religious director on the seminary in Lodz – we name him Father Grandpa – to complain about how tough a job it was, and he advised me: aren’t you the one which advised me about Father Dolindo and entrusting every thing to Jesus?”

The anecdote remembers Italian priest Franciscan Father Dolindo Ruotolo, who died in 1970.  Ruotolo is at present a Servant of God, one of many first steps on the highway to sainthood. In case you look in the back of the prayer card for the Naples-born priest, it features a novena to “holy give up” – the devotion for which is greatest identified.

Krajewski advised Crux that it wasn’t till he entrusted the endeavor to God – by saying, “Jesus, you handle it” – that a possibility for transporting the ventilators to Brazil offered itself.

In a press assertion despatched on Monday by the workplace of the Papal Almoner, Krajewski outlined the gesture as a “signal of closeness of the Holy Father.”

Together with 18 ventilators, 6 echocardiograph machines had been despatched to assist in the nation’s emergency wards.

As soon as in Brazil, these units might be delivered and donated to these hospitals chosen by the Vatican embassy within the nation, in order that “this gesture of Christian solidarity and charity can actually assist the poorest and most needy individuals.”

Observe Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma

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