Here’s a link to a must read story about the visit to Ukraine of one of Pope Francis’ two cardinal emissaries: Cardinal Czerny in Ukraine: We are all poor in the face of this war – Vatican News

Life in Italy: Gas here now costs between $9 and $10 a gallon, and other prices will rise (bread, pasta and other items already cost more) because of this: Fuel crisis: Italy braces for delays as truck deliveries suspended from Monday (

Saw a number of tartans today when I was out on an errand and I knew the only reason I’d seen men wearing “skirts” in Rome would be because of a rugby match!  In fact, Italy and Scotland play tomorrow night in Rome in a celebrated rugby tournament called the Six Nations. Games will be played in Rome’s historic Foro Italico and the Olympic stadium


After the news segment of “Vatican Insider,” tune in for my conversation with Bro. Binish Thomas, a Fatebenefratelli religious brother who is the director of the Vatican pharmacy.

You’ll learn about the history of the pharmacy, its 45,000 products, its 70 employees, the role it played in these Covid times, the help it gives to many people and organizations and, now especially, to Ukraine.

In fact, as I was ushered into Bro. Thomas’ office, I saw a number of pharmacy employees preparing huge boxes of supplies destined for Ukraine. Many of the medical supplies and other goods were brought by Vatican and Roman Curia employees on Monday to a large collection site just outside the Governorate building in Vatican City.

Just a few of the packed boxes that remained as I was leaving the pharmacy –

The 70 employees include pharmacists and personnel in the profumeria who work in two shifts, as well as those that work in administration, the storage rooms, labs and those who receive, catalogue and store new supplies.

Products range from thousands of prescription medicines to over-the-counter (OTC) items such as aspirin, cough medicine and throat lozenges to first aid products to vitamins and baby food – the list seems endless. A separate part of the pharmacy is the profumeria.

Brother Thomas explains that the pharmacy is visited by about 2,000 or more people daily, slightly less during Covid. That number includes Vatican employees who have Vatican health care insurance and outsiders who can visit the pharmacy with a legitimate medical prescription. Vatican employees enter Vatican City with their personal ID but visitors must first go to an office near the gendarmes to get a pass by showing personal ID and a medical prescription.

The newly re-furbished premises are quite large, much bigger than what strikes the human eye when buying a product in the pharmacy or in the separate profumeria and cosmetic section.

I visited a large number of rooms on several floors with Bro. Thomas – numerous storage rooms, a refrigerator room, a laboratory and a room for personnel breaks for coffee, etc. Electronics are everywhere. I’m sure it would not take more than two minutes to find a product anywhere on the premises! The pharmacy not only lives in the present – it is very avant-garde. 

This hand-held device, for example, allows the pharmacy to know the exact number remaining of specific items on storage room shelves.

As you can see here, the pharmacy, in business since 1874, also produces its own brand of perfumes and colognes for men and women, soap and other products.


And now, the real surprise!   The Vatican pharmacy uses robots to get medicine to the pharmacists!

Clients take a number to enter the pharmacy, then go to a specific counter and present the pharmacist with a prescription. The pharmacist puts that info into a computer and, what seems like no more than a minute, the needed medicine – having been picked from a storage shelf by the unseen robot – slides down a spiral chute and is in the pharmacist’s hands!

Here are some photos of the “robot” area. There are 3 laptop “robots” that get and forward the orders, the long arm of the “robot” that picks the product from the long rows of shelves. the 6 delivery chutes are located behind the pharmacists in the public part of the pharmacy.

All this and more on “Vatican Insider”

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to and write the name of the guest for whom you are searching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.


I called a taxi after an interview yesterday at Regina Apostolorum, a beautiful place in a country setting and bit of a distance from my home and office. When I got in the car and saw how beautiful and spacious it was, I asked the driver what it was and he asked me to guess, noting it is a well-known brand, even if owned only by a small number of people. For some reason I immediately guessed Tesla!

Well, the next 20 or so minutes were a revelation. The car is totally electric, no dashboard, just a big tablet that controls everything. There was even a moment when the driver, hands off, left the driving to the car – it was fascinating! Anything you can do in a normal car, you can do in a Tesla – you just touch the screen. You can listen to music and even view films – but you can only do movies when the car is parked.

I had lots of questions and he explained everything. I asked how he charged it and he showed me a map of Tesla charge spots. The Tesla spots charge faster than non-Tesla charge ones. He said he could do it at home but it would take a lot longer. It costs about 28€ to get the motor to 100% – gas would be about 60 or more Euro.  He also told me that insurance was a lot cheaper for a Tesla.

There are six cameras on the car and they capture front, back and the sides (front side, rear side, etc). Several times as he drove, the car slowed down because we were nearing a bus or another car but it was the Tesla computer that slowed the car, not the driver.

I don’t know how many of you reading this have ever been in a Tesla but for me, yesterday was a terrific ride and a fascinating conversation. I sound like a salesperson but it was a fun 20 minutes! I really don’t need a lot to make me happy!