Sunday, 15 June 2014

Pope Francis meeting the poor at the Community of Saint Egidio in Rome

I was very touched to be part of the big crowd of people who wanted to be in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome this afternoon. Thousands of people welcomed Pope Francis. It was a fantastic experience!



The Piazza was full, even though some people had not been able to join due to the heavy rain. Nevertheless, there were thousands of people singing cheerfully when I arrived. I was there together with some dear friends and I am happy to be able to say that I have met the Pope and listened to some of the speeches made by poor, immigrants, sick and elderly in the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The Pope was touched to tears when the 90-year-old woman Irma talked about how important it is to appreciate the elderly and how her life changed when she started helping those that were older than her when she was 70. Now, I am not able to move or do many things myself, she said, but I am not to be put aside. I still have a lot to give.


A young Roma man touched me deeply when he told the pope and the audience how people from the community came to pick him up to take him to school when he was a little boy. He kept studying thanks to the volunteers of the community and eventually found a job and now has a family and lives in a flat. He keeps helping other Roma people and tell them to study.
 Many people talked and unfortunatelly I had to run away before listening to the Pope since it started raining too heavily. I have posted the video above (Italian).

The Community of Sant'Egidio was founded in Rome in 1968. It has 60.000 members today in over 73 countries in the world. I was told that a site was started in London where there are 8 members who have started up the activity.

The members of the community do a lot of volunteering and I paste the below from the homepage: http://www.santegidio.org/

Friendship with the poor
The third "work" typical of Sant'Egidio, fundamental and daily commitment since the very beginning, is the service to poor people, lived as friendship. The students of 1968 who began gathering around the Word of God, felt the Gospel could not be lived far from poor people: poor people as friends and the Gospel as the Good News for poor people. Thus the first service of the community began, when it was not yet named Sant'Egidio. It was called the "People's School" because it was not simply providing extra tutoring for drop-out children of the slums of Rome (like the "Cinodromo" shacks along the Tiber), but it was the beginning of a friendship between the rich and the poor. Since then, the people's schools multiplied, in Rome and in all the other cities where the community lives, with special attention to the most disadvantaged children in the most difficult situation.



The Pope was invited to the Synagogue in Rome at the entrance of the church today, and we will soon see him there. Francis believes in communication and said so also during the sermon.

Thank you Comunità di Sant'Egidio for this great experience!

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