Pope turns pharmacist and hands out 'medicinal' rosary beads
Specially packaged rosaries are "good for the heart, the soul, the whole life"
The pope joked that he was a pharmacist on Sunday as he promoted prayer as medicine for the heart, offering some 20,000 boxes of "mercy" – containing rosaries – to pilgrims in St Peter's Square.
Appearing at his studio window, Francis held up the box designed to resemble a packet of pills emblazoned with a design of a human heart, before volunteers distributed them.
"I now want to suggest a medicine. 'What?' you ask, 'the pope is now a pharmacist?'" he said shaking the box, after reciting the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer from a window overlooking the square.
Labelled "Misericordina, 59 Beads for the Heart", the box also contains 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 pontiff added: "Don't forget to take your medicine, because it is good for the heart, the soul, the whole life."
At his address on Sunday, he also warned the 80,000 tourists who packed the square not to be taken in by "false messiahs".
The Pope has been hailed for reinvigorating interest in the Catholic Church since he was elected in a secret conclave earlier this year after Benedict XVI stepped down.
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