Envelope with money turns up after woman had written to the Holy Father

Pope Francis has given €200 (£170) to a pensioner who had been mugged after she wrote to him.

The woman, who is from Venice and in her late 80s, had written to the Holy Father telling him that her purse, containing €54, had been stolen while she was on her way to visit her husband in huospital.

Last week a mysterious package arrived at the door of a local priest, Fr Gianni Antoniazzi. The envelope contained the seal of the Vatican Secretary of State, and Fr Antoniazzi said he was “overwhelmed with emotion” when he read it.

In it a note signed by Pope Francis’s new alms master Archbishop Konrad Krajewski said: “Please deliver in the manner it deems appropriate, the relevant amount to the lady in question, that it is a gift of His Holiness, who offers her his apostolic blessing accompanied by desired aid and divine comfort for her and for her husband.”

Fr Antoniazzi said: “It is an extraordinary series of events: Francis knows not only how to interact with people, communicating brilliantly and infusing them with great hope, but also responds to personal requests.”

The new pope has surprised many faithful with surprise phone calls, including a rape victim in Argentina who had written to him.