Yesterday afternoon, Pope Francis visited the ‘Casa Dono di Maria’ (Gift of Mary House), a soup kitchen located within the Vatican and maintained by the Missionaries of Charity. The purpose of the Holy Father’s visit was to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Blessed Pope John Paul II granting custody of the house to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
Pope Francis, who was accompanied by Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, Prefect of the Papal Household and Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, his personal secretary, was greeted by the Missionaries of Charity who placed a garland of flowers around the Pope’s neck, as per Indian tradition.
Sr. Mary Prema Pierick, Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, greeted the Holy Father and thanked him for accepting the invitation to commemorate the anniversary.
“This day takes us back to the memory 25 years ago, when on May 21st, 1988, Blessed John Paul II entrusted the “Gift of Mary” House to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, a House destined to become a place of consolation to those in need and who desired to be touched by the love of Christ,” Sr. Mary said to the Holy Father.
The ‘Casa Dono di Maria’ houses 25 women and also gives meals to over 60 men daily. Present at the meeting with the Holy Father were the guests of the house, patrons, employees, friends as well as the Missionaries of Charity and representatives of various communities in Rome.
“Your Holiness, we entrust ourselves to your prayers so that we may always be faithful to our Charism. Humbly, we ask you to impart your Apostolic Blessing on this work so that it may be a visible sign of the compassion of Jesus in today’s world,” Sr. Mary concluded.
Pope Francis thanked the Missionaries of Charity as well as the Men’s branch of the congregation in sustaining what he called “a beautiful reality within the Vatican.”
“You, dear Sisters, together with the Missionaries of Charity [Brothers and Fathers] and your collaborators, make present the love of the Church for the poor. With your daily service you are – as the Psalm says – the hand of God that satisfies the hunger of every living being,” the Pope said.
The Holy Father reflected on three words that comprise the name of the ‘Casa Dono di Maria’: house, gift and Mary.
As a house, Pope Francis told those present that the house was a home built by saints and blessed, referring to Blessed John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. The Holy Father said that the holiness that fills the ‘Casa Dono di Maria’ and makes its a true home that recalls feelings of warmth, affection, and love.
“The ‘home’ represents the most precious human richness: that of encounter, that of relations among persons, different in age, culture and history, but who live together and together help one another to grow,” the Pope said.
“This is a ‘home’. And this is what this House has tried to be for 25 years! At the border between the Vatican and Italy, it is a strong appeal to us all, to the Church, to the City of Rome to be always more family, “home” in which one is open to hospitality, care and fraternity.”
The word “gift”, he continued, describes the ‘Casa Dono di Maria’, saying that it described its particular identity as a house that gives hospitality, material and spiritual support to those who are in need.
Addressing those who either live or are supported by the Missionaries of Charity, the Holy Father also thanked them for the gift of their presence. “You are, dear brothers and sisters, the face of Jesus,” the Pope said.
“You “give” the possibility to all those who work in this place to serve Jesus in those who are in difficulty, who are in need of help.”
The Pope went on to say that the House was a place that educates the world in charity, that teaches others to meet Christ in each person and not exploit them for personal gain.
“A wild capitalism has taught the logic of profit at all cost, of giving to get, of exploitation without looking at the persons and we see the results in the crisis we are living!,” the Holy Father said.
Concluding his address, the Holy Father said that the House truly was a gift of Mary, emphasizing that the Blessed Mother “is an example and a symbol for those who live in this House, and for all of us, to live charity to our neighbor not out of some sort of social duty, but beginning from the love of God, from the charity of God.”
After his address, Pope Francis greeted each one present individually in what was described as ‘a festive atmosphere.’
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On ZENIT's webpage:
For the full text of Pope Francis' address, go to:
For the full text of St. Mary Prema Pierick's welcoming address to the Holy Father, go to: