Pope Francis donates ventilators in honor of St. George’s feast day

Pope Francis May 15 2019 Credit Daniel Ibanez CNA Pope Francis May 15, 2019. | Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Pope Francis marked the feast of his namesake on Thursday with a gift of ventilators and other medical equipment to countries with medical systems overwhelmed by the coronavirus outbreak.

Ventilators were delivered to hospitals in Romania, Spain, and Italy on April 23, the feast of St. George, the patron saint of Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

Because coronavirus is a respiratory illness, ventilators have become one of the highest priorities in hospitals around the world, including in Italy's overwhelmed hospital system.

Five ventilators were sent to a hospital in Suceava, Romania, a town that has reported 25% of the 10,096 cases of COVID-19 in Romania, according to Vatican News.

Two more ventilators are being delivered to a hospital in the southern Italian town of Lecce, and three others have been given to Madrid, Spain.

Pope Francis entrusted the Office of Papal Charities with 30 ventilators to be distributed to hospitals a month ago. Two of these were already delivered to a hospital in Naples just before Easter, along with other medical equipment, as well as Easter eggs.

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, called the medical delivery "a beautiful sign" and "a hug from the Pope for the entire world in a difficult situation."

"On this particular day … the Holy Father does not receive a gift, but gives one to others," the cardinal said, according to Vatican News.

St. George was a soldier of the Roman army martyred in the year 303 for his Christian faith under Diocletian's persecution of Christians. He is the patron saint of many nations, including England, Malta, Palestine, Georgia, and Lebanon.

St. George is usually depicted in Christian art as a soldier on horseback killing a dragon with a lance. This image is derived from a 13th century text, "The Golden Legend". However it is also considered a powerful symbol of the victory of Christian faith over evil.

The feast of St. George -- Jorge in Spanish -- is an official state holiday in Vatican City as the name day of Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

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