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Pope spends name-day with poor receiving vaccine

CNS photo/Vatican Media

Pope Francis made a surprise visit to a group of Rome’s poor and homeless people, as they receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the Vatican.

As he often does on the Feast of St George (Jorge in Spanish), Pope Francis offered something to others for his name-day on Friday, April 23.

This year’s was a double gift given to a group of Rome’s poor and homeless.

The Pope not only threw his support behind the Papal Almoner’s project to provide free COVID-19 vaccines for a group of around 600 vulnerable people.

He also showed up in-person at the Paul VI Hall last Friday to visit them as they received their second jab.

According to the Holy See Press Office, the Pope spent around half an hour with those present.

He walked through the audience hall, greeting people as he walked along.

Before he left, Pope Francis stopped to offer a large chocolate Easter egg which was distributed to the volunteers, “while respecting all health norms”.

Those present then sang a song of well-wishes for the Pope’s name-day.

“As he stopped to speak to several volunteers in a joyous and cordial environment, the Holy Father thanked them and encouraged them to ‘continue your hard work!’,” read the Press Office statement.

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Papal Almoner, then thanked all the volunteers and health workers for their part in organising the vaccination campaign.

Those receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were part of a larger group of 1,400 who got the first jab during Holy Week.

The Office of the Papal Almoner had announced already on Thursday that the Pope would celebrate his name-day “with a surprise”.

It turns out that surprise was a personal visit to Rome’s most vulnerable.

The group includes several guests of a home run by the Missionaries of Charity, people receiving aid from the St Egidio Community, and others helped by a group called Medicina Solidale.

The Vatican’s campaign to offer free vaccines for those in need began in January, at the same time as Vatican employees started receiving the jab.