On Aug. 17, 2019, Pope Francis launched “The Pope Francis Hospital Ship” or the “Barco-Hospital Papa Francisco.” This ship travels around the Amazon River providing aid to people there and it has completed three years of service so far.
When Pope Francis launched the ship, he said that “this river hospital is above all a response to the Lord’s mandate, who continues to send His disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” According to Catholic News Agency, the Fraternity of St. Francis of Assisi, the local diocese and the Brazilian government coordinate efforts for the medical ship.
The idea for the ship first came in 2013, when Pope Francis visited the Brazilian Franciscans and encouraged them to expand their health care efforts into the Amazon region. The boat was made a reality six years later.
Since it has launched, the ship has provided tens of thousands of medical consultations and was especially helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aleteia reported that the hospital ship began delivering hygiene and food baskets to communities who became more isolated from the world because of the pandemic.
Additionally, the ship delivered ventilators and other supplies. Catholic News Agency indicated that medical staff on the ship provide medical consultations to local populations and give medicine to local doctors to ensure they have supplies to treat others.
The ship is still in commission today.