I had a wonderful time at the Vatican pharmacy yesterday, a place I’ve been to countless times in my decades in Rome, during which I interviewed Bro. Binish Thomas, director of the pharmacy. Among the many things I learned was the aid being assembled for the people of Ukraine. You’ll hear about that and a lot more when I air the interview on Vatican Insider but you can read a bit today because the Vatican newspaper featured a brief interview with Bro. Thomas that I’ve translated.

If you live in Rome, there’s a way to help the pharmacy help the Ukrainians, as you will see in the story.


Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin expressed his dismay at the Russian bombing of a pediatric hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, and reiterates the Holy See’s desire to mediate if requested.

By Vatican News

A Russian air raid struck a children’s hospital on the southern port city of Mariupol on Wednesday, killing at least three people, including a child.

The Mariupol city council confirmed the air strike on the hospital’s maternity ward, which wounded at least 17 people, including doctors, children, and women waiting to give birth. The head of the Donetsk regional administration said the attack took place during a ceasefire agreed with Russian authorities.

‘Unacceptable attacks on civilians’

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, criticized attacks on hospitals, in response to a reporter’s question at a conference in Rome on Wednesday evening.

He said the bombing of medical centers for women and children is unacceptable, no matter the reason.

Cardinal Parolin repeated the Holy See’s willingness to mediate peace talks between Ukraine and Russia if requested. He admitted that the space for negotiations is slight, but expressed hope some agreement could be reached.

Diplomatic efforts

The cardinal secretary of state spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday. Referring to that phone call, the cardinal said no guarantees were offered and that Mr. Lavrov did not offer reassurances regarding humanitarian corridors.

Cardinal Parolin reiterated that the Holy See is always ready to engage in diplomacy with all parties, even as it calls for an end to the war in Ukraine.

Mission for peace

Pope Francis has dispatched two cardinals to the region – Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, and Cardinal Michael Czerny, the interim prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Cardinal Parolin said their mission is a sign of the Pope’s desire to contribute to peace, on spiritual, material, and diplomatic levels.

Inflaming tensions further

Cardinal Parolin also referred to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill’s homily on Sunday. He said the Patriarch’s statements do not encourage or promote an understanding, adding that his words risk further inflaming tempers leading to an escalation that does not resolve the crisis in a peaceful way.


A joint effort is underway by both the Vatican Pharmacy and its employees and customers to meet the urgent needs of the people of Ukraine who are victims of the war. First aid medicines, antibiotics, painkillers, but also medical and pediatric material have already been delivered to Santa Sofia basilica, a reference point for the Ukrainian community in Rome, to get them directly to where they are most needed.

In an interview with “L’Osservatore Romano,” the director of the Vatican Pharmacy, Brother Binish Thomas of the Hospital Order of St. John of God (Fatebenefratelli), gives an initial assessment of the “solidarity contest” also taking place in the Vatican.(JFL photo)

What are the most requested and donated products?

We mainly collect and send antibiotics, pain relievers, anti-inflammatory products, pediatric medicines and first aid materials.

Who are the recipients of this aid and how and when will it arrive?

In these days we are collecting offers and donations for the population affected by the conflict from the institutions and offices of Vatican City State, as well as from religious and lay employees. All that we have received from individuals, entities and organizations has been delivered, through the papal almoner, to Santa Sofia, which sorts the materials in order to answer requests from Ukraine or neighboring nations that welcome displaced people who have fled the country.

Do you have any other initiatives planned?

The Vatican Pharmacy is always attentive and sensitive to humanitarian and health emergencies, especially those affecting populations affected by wars. In particular, as the Fatebenfratelli religious community, along with our collaborators, we joined the aid initiative promoted by the papal almoner’s office by actively participating in the collection of medicines and other necessities on Monday March 7, in the square in front of the Governorate building.

Is it possible to continue donating other medicines to send to Ukrainian refugees?

Not having an online service for the purchase of products for health emergencies, all people wishing to participate in our aid initiatives can come directly to the pharmacy where our staff is ready to address offers in the most attentive way possible aimed at the emergency in progress.






An interesting note on the weekly calendar sent out by the Vatican’s Communication Dicastery to media who are accredited to the Holy See Press Office:

November 5 marks the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Vatican City on this date in 1943. The attack took place at 8.05 pm when an unknown plane dropped four shattering bombs of medium size on the side of the Vatican gardens looking towards the Janiculum hill. The bombs struck the Vatican railway station, the mosaic workshop and then, finally, strafed the back of the Governorate’s Palace, used at the time not only for offices but also for private homes.