The Catholic lay Community of Sant’Egidio organized a Christmas dinner for the poor in Rome in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, as well as in different countries where the Community works, preparing dinners for the poor in some 400 places.
On the night of December 31, they will take food and panettone to the homeless in Rome, as they usually do, “making them feel our affection,” commented a volunteer.
Moreover, on January 1, their March for Peace will be held in Rome, from Castel Sant’Angelo to the beginning of Via della Conciliazione, to the Vatican, where they will take part in the prayer of the Angelus presided over by Pope Francis. The March is also held in other countries where the Community operates.
In regard to the Christmas dinner for the poor, they pointed out that it has been “a tradition of Sant’Egidio Community since 1982, when a small group of indigent individuals was received at the table in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.” There “were some 20 guests” in that first dinner: “some were elderly of the neighborhood of whom we were already friends for some time, who would have been alone that day, and some were homeless persons that we knew from the streets of Rome.”
Since that date, “the table has been extended every year and from Trastevere it has reached many parts of the world, where the Community is present,” they pointed out.
Christmas in the year 2000 was extraordinary, with tens of thousands of people in 54 different countries: individuals living on the street, in residences, in prisons, all of them poor that the Community helps during the year and many others who have joined the celebration, they indicated.
In particular, they recall that Saint Francis said that Christmas is the feast of feasts; therefore, everyone should be embraced and no one excluded. Friar Thomas de Celano explained that “on that day Francis wanted beggars to be satiated by the rich and that oxen and mules receive a food ration and hay more abundant than usual.”
The Community explained that precisely on the day that Jesus was born poor to save the world, they wish to gather as a great family, where everyone is able to feel at home.