Pope Francis will visit the paediatric Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome on Dec. 21st.
Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, made the announcement at the end of a Vatican concert in support of the hospital on Dec. 2nd.
Concert performers included the renowned tenor, Andrea Bocelli, who performed in the presence of senior Vatican officials and a packed Paul VI Hall of 9,000 people.
He said that like his predecessors, Pope Francis shows “an overflowing fatherly love for children.”
“The more childhood is protected and promoted,” Archbishop Parolin said, “the much greater the hope of a balanced and peaceful future.” And he added that a serene environment is “indispensable in allowing children and their parents, already tested by illness and pain, to deal with these harsh circumstances of life, in a climate filled with humanity and delicacy.”
Founded in 1869, the hospital is now part of Italy’s healthcare system, although it remains on extraterritorial grounds administered by the Holy See. It has developed a high level of expertise in treating children coming not only from Rome or Italy, but also from neighbouring European countries.