(Vatican Radio) Lifeguards from across Italy have presented Pope Francis with backpacks filled with products for distribution to the poor.
More than 1,500 lifeguards and coastal resort business representatives wearing distinctive red jackets were at Wednesday's General Audience to give bags to the Holy Father containing items like toothpaste and razors.
The initiative was organised by the "Sindacato Italiano Balneari (S.I.B)" organisation which provides vital supervision for bathers at coastal resorts throughout the country.
President of the organisation, Riccardo Borgo, said: “With this gesture we came to give a concrete help to Pope Francis and his works in support of the homeless.
“We also delivered to His Holiness the distinctive symbol of Italian lifeguards, the red shirt with the word 'Rescue' identical to the one worn on our beaches by the thousands of boys and girls each summer who supervise and work so that bathing happens in complete safety and tranquility.”
More than 1,000 reusable backpacks made up of different products including soap, shaving foam, and deodorants were handed over to the Holy Father for distribution to the poor at Easter. S.I.B came up with the idea following Pope Francis’ initiative launched at the Vatican two years ago that provides showers and barber services for homeless people.
The lifeguards and coastal resort entrepreneurs were joined in St Peter's Square by their families and were accompanied by the Bishop of Chioggia, Adriano Tessarolo, as well as several priests from coastal regions.
Following the audience, a delegation consisting of one representative for each coastal town met with the papal almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski who gave them Rosary beads as a memento of the event.
Mr Borgo said: “For this summer, we have other charitable initiatives and solidarity planned in favour of children and the poor.”