They were not “Get out of jail free” cards but were possibly the next best thing.
During one of Italy’s hottest summers on record, Pope Francis sent 15,000 ice creams to inmates in Rome’s two prisons, the Vatican said on Tuesday.
A statement from the Pope’s charity office said they were sent to the two prisons – the older Regina Coeli jail on the Tiber River in the city centre and the modern Rebibbia prison on its outskirts.
They were delivered in his name by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who is known as “the Pope’s almoner” or one who distributes alms to the poor.
Cardinal Krajewski, who is Polish and at 57 one of the youngest cardinals, has also set up medical and bathing facilities for the homeless near the Vatican at Pope Francis’ direction since the pontiff’s election in 2013.
The summer was one of the hottest on record in Italy. One city in Sicily reported 49°C in August, believed to be the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe.
Cardinal Krajewski’s office also sent a $600,000 computerised tomography (CT) scan machine to a health centre in Madagascar and about €2 million ($2.37m) of funds to improve medical facilities in three African countries during the summer, the statement said.