Pope Francis on the afternoon of November 29, 2019, visited the Cittadella della Carità, the “Citadel of Charity”, a collection of charitable programs including the Dental Centre, the “Santa Giacinta” Home, the “Emporium of Solidarity”, and the Cafeteria, reported Vatican News.
He met with the director, Fr Benoni Ambarus, along with more than 200 guests and volunteers. Friday’s encounter was the fifth time Popes have visited the works of Caritas Rome.
In December of 2015, Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of Charity at the Don Luigi Di Liegro Hostel to mark the opening of the Jubilee of Mercy. On Friday, another special occasion, the 40th anniversary of the institution of Caritas Roma, once again brings him to the Diocesan charitable organization. The encounter is set to begin at 4 p.m. Rome time, at the Citadella della Carità.
“The Pope’s visit”, explained Fr Ambarus, “is part of the celebration for the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Caritas in the Church of Rome”.
“Let us experience this event, together with our Bishop, with a memory of gratitude to the Lord for having chosen us servants and collaborators”, he continued. The Citadel of Charity “aspires to be a place of witness to the city [of Rome] and to the Church”, providing charitable services as concrete signs through which thousands of guests and volunteers pass each year.
The visit began in the Church of Santa Giacinta, the heart of the complex. The Church has been granted the use of the historically significant 19th-century buildings by the City of Rome and undertook the recovery and restoration of the buildings with great care.
Pope Francis then visited the Dental Centre, where more than 40 volunteer dentists care for more than 350 patients, including numerous minors. Last year alone, more than two thousand medical services were provided.
Afterward, the visit continued at the Emporium of Solidarity, the first free supermarket in Italy. It was founded in 2008, and each year welcomes more than 1,500 families. In 2018, more than 490 tons of food products, with an estimated value of 770 thousand euros, were distributed.
From there, the Pope toured the Santa Giacinta Home, which houses 82 people over the age of 50 who are experiencing social and economic hardship.
Then, in the Cafeteria, the Holy Father met with about fifty people living in different facilities, including hostels, family houses, refugee facilities, homes for single mothers, and centers for unaccompanied foreign minors.
Finally, in the main hall, there was a gathering with guests, volunteers, and workers representing parishes and diocesan centers from around the city.
Today’s visit by Pope Francis marks the fifth papal visit to Caritas in Rome. They began with Pope John Paul II, who visited the “Mensa di Colle Oppio” (a soup kitchen operated by Caritas Roma) in 1992. Fifteen years later, in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI also visited the Mensa; and in 2010, he met with guests and workers at the Caritas facilities on Via Marsala on the occasion of the European Year for Combatting Poverty. And, as mentioned previously, Pope Francis continued the tradition of visits to Caritas centers when he opened the Holy Door of Charity on December 18, 2015.