Belem, Brazil, Aug 20, 2019 / 08:30 am America/Denver (CNA).
A hospital boat named the “Pope Francis” set sail this week in the Amazon River to bring medical care to rural populations.
“Just as Jesus, who appeared walking on water, calmed the storm and strengthened the faith of the disciples, this boat will bring spiritual comfort and calm to the worries of needy men and women, abandoned to their fate,” Pope Francis said in a letter sent to mark the ship’s launch Aug. 17 in Belem, Brazil.
“In addition to being a beautiful concrete gesture in view of the Synod of Bishops for Amazon, this river hospital is above all a response to the Lord's mandate, who continues to send His disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick,” the pope said, according to Vatican News.
The hospital boat is the initiative of the Fraternity of Saint Francis of Assisi in the Providence of God in partnership with their local diocese and the Brazilian government.
The Brazilian Franciscans were inspired to create the floating hospital when Pope Francis visited their healthcare facility during World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. During the visit, the pope encouraged Friar Francisco Belotti to expand his religious order’s charitable works into the Amazon region.