(Vatican City, VAT) - Pope Francis on Sunday advised Catholics to take a special dose of spiritual medicine, offering some 20,000 boxes of "mercy" -- containing rosaries -- to pilgrims in St Peter's Square.
"I now want to suggest a medicine. 'What?' you ask, 'the pope is now a pharmacist?'" Francis said, shaking a box resembling a pack of tablets, after reciting the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer from a window overlooking the square.
Labelled "Misericordina, 59 Beads for the Heart" and emblazoned with an image of the human heart, the box contains a rosary and instructions in several languages.
"Can be used once a day, but in case of emergency can be taken as much as the soul needs," the instruction leaflet says, adding: "The dose is the same for adults and children."
The unusual medicine box was inspired by followers of Polish nun Mary Faustina Kowalska, who was made a saint in 2000 and is known as the Apostle of Divine Mercy, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.
"Don't forget to take your medicine, because it is good for the heart, the soul, the whole life," the pontiff said.