Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Wednesday, 21 February 2024
Vatican: 'Bambino Gesù' became the Pope's Hospital

The Bambino Gesù Hospital, a reference point for paediatric assistance worldwide, was donated to the Vatican 100 years ago on 20 February. We look back at the hospital's history and the paternal relationship the Holy Father has with the Rome institution that is known as "the Pope's Hospital".

Francesca Merlo/ :

In 1869, Duchess and Duke Scipioni founded the Bambino Gesù paediatric hospital. Their house in the center of Rome and its 12 beds became the city's first hospital dedicated to children.


Then, on 20 Feb 1924, the hospital was donated to the Holy See, making it "the Pope's Hospital", and a point of reference for the care of sick children in Rome and around the world. Exactly one hundred years have passed.


By this time, the hospital had already relocated to the ancient convent of Sant'Onofrio on the Janiculum Hill. Having moved in 1887, less than ten years after it was founded, the hospital stands there to this day, though it is expected to move again in 2030, to where the "Forlanini" hospital once stood. 


The history of the hospital


Before the donation to the Holy See, 33,000 children had already been hospitalized at the Bambino Gesù. The hospital had already faced numerous emergencies, including the aftermath of the Avezzano earthquake in 1915, in which 420 children were admitted, and the Spanish flu epidemic during the Great War in 1918, during which 300 children were hospitalized.


A hub of excellence


The first Pope to visit was Pope John XXIII in 1858, followed by Paul VI in 1968, by John Paul II in 1979, by Benedict XVI in 2005 and by Pope Francis in 2017. The Bambino Gesù Hospital is now the largest pediatric polyclinic and research center in Europe and is linked to major international centers in the field.


In 2022 alone, the hospital recorded more than 95,000 ER admissions, 29,000 hospitalizations, 32,000 surgical and interventional procedures, and 2,500,000 outpatient services: one of the most significant pediatric case histories in Europe.


More than 30 per cent of admissions involve patients from outside the region, while 14 per cent are foreign nationals. By 2023, 18,000 children with rare diseases had been treated and looked after. 


Pope Francis and the Bambino Gesù


"I perceived that more than a hospital this is a family". Pope Francis said as he spoke to children and staff of the Bambino Gesù Hospital in 2017. Pope Francis, too is part of that family. He has visited the children in the hospital, who in turn have sent him letters and drawings. The Bambino Gesù paediatric hospital is not known as "the Pope's Hospital" just because it belongs to the Holy See, but because the love and care the Holy Father has for the establishment is clear and true, and the children know it too.