Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing, who founded Boys' Towns of Italy, has died aged 88.

Carroll-Abbing was a British-born Irish citizen who had lived in Italy since 1930, when he went to Rome to study for the Roman Catholic priesthood.

Ordained when he was 23, he entered the Vatican diplomatic service in 1937. When the Second World War ended, he got permission from Pope Pius XII to leave and work with refugees.

Carroll-Abbing began by setting up shelters - he called them ''shoestring hotels'' - for Roman street children. On the day the city was liberated by the Allies, he was honoured with a silver medal for valour on the field of battle for his work, even though he was a non-combatant.

The citation commended him for ''rising up with the fervour

of an apostle in defence of humanity tortured and crushed by an oppressor''. The king bestowed several awards on him as well, and honours accumulated throughout his life.

After the war, Carroll-Abbing headed Italy's national medical relief agency, which helped refugees and managed relief projects for malaria victims

in the Cassino and Anzio

battle zones.

At the same time, he founded in 1945 the first of what eventually became nine Boys' Towns in Italy, along with 40 temporary shelters for street children.

Carroll-Abbing also found time to write several books, including A Chance to Live, about children of the war and the founding of Boys' Towns

in Italy, and a novel, Journey

to Somewhere.

Boys' Town is an American charity organisation.