Pope to Vatican pharmacists: 'Your work requires a supplement of charity'

Pope Francis receives the staff of the Vatican Pharmacy ahead of its 150th anniversary celebration, and encourages them to continue their “mission” on behalf of the most vulnerable and the sick.

Sep 19, 2023

Pope Francis meeting religious and lay employees of the Vatican Farmacy in the Clemenine Hall (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

By Lisa Zengarini
Meeting on Monday with some 150 men religious and lay employees of the Vatican Pharmacy as they prepare to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its foundation in 2024, Pope Francis thanked them for their “professionalism and dedication”, but also for “the spirit of welcome and availability” with which they carry out their work.

150 years of service to Roman Curia
Introducing his address in the Clementine Hall, the Pope briefly recalled the history of the pharmacy, which was founded in 1874 as a pharmaceutical dispensary for the Pope and cardinals by Blessed Pope Pius IX, who realized a dream of his predecessor, Pope Gregory XVI.

The dispensary was entrusted to the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God (commonly known as the "Brothers of Mercy", and in Italian as "Fatebefratelli",  meaning "Do-Good Brothers”), who for over four centuries have been carrying out a wide range of health and social service activities around the world.

The Pope highlighted, in particular, the precious assistance provided by the Vatican Pharmacy and the Fatebenefratelli to the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council hailing from all over the world.

In time, the pharmacy has extended its services not only to Vatican employees and residents of Vatican City, but also to other people who need particular medicines which can’t be found elsewhere. Today, more than 50 percent of the people it serves come from outside Vatican City.

Providing a "supplement of charity" to the most vulnerable
Pope Francis warmly thanked the Fatebenefratelli and all the staff of the pharmacy for this work.

He remarked that their service differs from that offered by other pharmacies, not only because it serves the Successor of Peter and the Roman Curia, but also because it requires a "supplement of charity" towards the most vulnerable and tthe sick.

Noting that among the people they serve there are many elderly people, who often need “not only medicine, but attention, a smile, a word of comfort”, Pope Francis stressed the importance of patience and of transmitting “courage and closeness” in their work as a “testimony to the Gospel.”

“Yours is not a job, it's a mission,” he said.

“Don't forget this: the apostolate of the ears. Listening, listening…. At times it seems boring, but for the person speaking it is a caress from God through you.”

Serving the sick is serving God
Concluding Pope Francis exhorted the employees of the Vatican Pharmacy to the raise their eyes towards the Crucifix as they work and to turn their “gaze to the wounded God”.

He reminded them that “the service you do to the sick is service to Him.”

“It’s beautiful to draw patience and benevolence from the heavenly Doctor, and the strength to love, without getting tired. At His school, from the desk of the Cross to the pharmacy counter, may you too be dispensers of mercy every day ]”--Vatican News

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