Pope Francis blesses an ambulance bound for Ukraine.| Vatican Media.
A Vatican cardinal is bringing an ambulance blessed and donated by Pope Francis to the authorities in Lviv, western Ukraine.
Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who runs the pope’s charitable office, left Rome on Saturday afternoon to drive the ambulance to Ukraine, the Vatican said.
This is the second time that the 58-old Polish cardinal has travelled to Lviv, which is about 45 minutes from the border with Poland, since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war on Feb. 24.
The papal almoner returned to Rome on March 12, after spending almost a week in Lviv, where he donated fuel and helped load trucks with supplies to be taken to areas of Ukraine under bombardment.
The Vatican said on March 26 that the ambulance from Pope Francis would be donated to Ukrainian authorities to assist with medical treatment as the city responds to the influx of people seeking safety from shelling in the capital Kyiv and other parts of the country.
The U.N. Refugee Agency estimates that around 6.5 million people have been displaced from their homes within Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion.
Around 40% of the 6.5 million fled to the west, including Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine. An additional 3.8 million Ukrainian refugees have left the country.
Krajewski left for Ukraine just hours after returning from Fatima, Portugal, on March 26.
The almoner was Pope Francis’ envoy to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, where on March 25 he recited the solemn act of consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary together with Francis, who was in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The cardinal told Vatican News on March 26 that he was leaving for Ukraine “with a heart full of hope” after the Marian consecration.
Around 15,000 people reportedly took part in the consecration at the Fatima shrine. Krajewski said that “all the people recited the pope’s prayer with me.”
“A cry for peace” arose from Fatima, he said, adding that “with faith, the war can stop, and with all my faith I go to Ukraine to experience the concrete consequences of the act of entrustment to Mary.”