Vatican City, Dec 9, 2020 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Christmas at the Vatican will be a little different this year — and in keeping with the times, Pope Francis has eschewed a traditional gift for something a bit more practical.
Rather than a bottle of sparkling wine and the traditional Italian holiday cake panettone, the pope’s Christmas present to Vatican employees is over-the-counter flu medicine, according to Italian media.
Pope Francis is giving each of his nearly 4,000 employees five boxes of Vicks day and nighttime flu medicine with acetaminophen, Il Messaggero reported.
It is thought that the idea for the useful winter gift was suggested by the man responsible for distributing the pope’s alms, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who is known for his hands-on approach to helping Rome’s poor and homeless.
The custom Christmas gift is being distributed as the Vatican faces more financial losses with a new closure of the Vatican Museums, the city state’s largest income stream.
Since Nov. 3, the Italian government has decreed that all museums in the country will be closed to the public at least through Jan. 15, 2021, as one of the measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
To date, the Vatican has had a number of COVID-19 cases among employees and residents. Since March, at least 13 people connected to the city state had tested positive for the coronavirus, mostly in the spring.
Eleven members of the Swiss Guards contracted the virus in October. The Vatican press office has not said if there are currently any active cases.
Last week, Pope Francis’ charity brought free flu vaccines and coronavirus tests to homeless people living in a town outside Rome.
The Vatican ambulance carried the medical supplies to the small seaside town of Torvaianica, and health staff from the papal charity office administered the flu shots and COVID-19 tests to 35 people in a courtyard outside the local parish.
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