After praying the Angelus, Pope Francis headed to the Paul VI Audience Hall, where hundreds of homeless people invited to lunch by the Vatican awaited him.
The reception was a spectacle.
There were 1,500 people in total. They couldn't believe they had been invited to the Vatican to have lunch with the pope. The excitement could be felt in the air.
Pope Francis situated himself at the central table and gave the blessing from there.
“Welcome everyone, let's prepare for this moment together, with each one of our hearts full of good will, of friendship. Let's share lunch and wish each other the best. Let's now pray that the Lord bless us, that He may bless this food, that He blesses those who prepared it, that He blesses all of us, our hearts, our families, our wishes, our lives and blesses us with health and strength. Amen.”
The main course was Sardinian pasta with tomato sauce, olives, cheese and beef with vegetables. However, the best part for the attendees was feeling special and being received by the pope.
“It was beautiful, a fantastic initiative. My husband is unemployed. I work in the fields. When there is work, I go, and when there isn't, I don't. We always overcome the hardships, though. I earned enough from the fields to rent a house. It was difficult, but I pray, I pray. God hasn't abandoned me.”
In the Paul VI Audience Hall, Pope Francis also prayed for the other 2,500 homeless people who were having lunch at other places in Rome, like this Vincentian home.
A few dozen needy came here, some of them foreigners, like this Cameroonian woman who was able to greet the pope.
“I had chills. It was an unexplainable excitement. These things need to be done to help, so people don't feel alone. I think it's a great initiative. I'm separated and live with my children thanks to the Vincentians, who have helped me with so much.”
Not all of the attendees were immigrants, though they all shared something in common: poverty.
Pope Francis wanted to present poverty to people on this day as a sign of warning. In an egocentric world and one blinded by self-interest, people are increasingly afraid of fighting against inequality and sharing with the needy.