By Larissa I. López

Pope Francis donated an electric bicycle for a charity auction to pay for a children’s pilgrimage to Lourdes, from the Oncology Unit of the Gemelli Polyclinic of Rome, reported Vatican News.

The Holy Father’s private secretary, Monsignor Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, was in charge of handing this lovely present to the heads of the Rome-Lazio Section of UNITALSI (Italian Transport Union of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines), an organization of the Church, which accompanies and assists disabled, sick and elderly persons during pilgrimages.

The electric bicycle will be auctioned on UNITALSI’s portal, which has a special page explaining the bicycle’s technical characteristics as well as how to take part in the charity bid.

Given Pope Francis’ donation, the organization of volunteers said in a note: “It’s one more gesture of tenderness on the part of the Holy Father who in these years of pontificate has expressed benevolently and in different ways his closeness to UNITALSI.”

“Along with the gift, Pope Francis also gave psychological support to our volunteers, asking us to start again and giving us a stimulus to walk again, supporting us. For us it’s a ‘walk with you” and this is very important,” said Father Gianni Toni, Assistant of the Rome-Lazio Section of UNITALSI, during an interview with “Vatican News.”

UNITALSI’S Work

According to “Vatican News,” in these months of pandemic UNITALSI’s volunteers have made a great effort to stay close to the people, with gestures such as phone calls, or through messages of consolation and hope.

“We haven’t stopped over these months; the volunteers have been incessantly close to the sick in different ways. They are persons for whom it is essential to reaffirm their importance because every life is precious and rich in God’s eyes,” said Father Toni.

“The Pope’s words come to mind when he said there is no greater power than service. To serve a brother means to be by his side, to make daily life human.”

Now that it’s possible, the Italian organization hopes to start the pilgrimages again, such as that of Lourdes, in the month of August, and has proposed the mentioned initiative to raise funds for this purpose.

The Pope Is Always Close to Children

Preziosa Terrinoni, President of the Rome-Lazio Section of UNITALSI, stressed that the Holy Father “is always close to the children and, in addition to spending time with them every time he visited the installations, a few years ago he also wished to receive them in a private visit to the Vatican.”

It was a special moment, which the Holy Father hasn’t forgotten, as “over the last days he thought of them, donating a cutting edge Piaggio electric bicycle,” pointed out UNITALSI.

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