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World Day of the Poor: A message of solidarity and hope

The World Day of the Poor celebrated annually on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, is an invitation to individuals and institutions to look to those in need with respect, through initiatives and global support.

By Francesca Merlo

“Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor”. The theme for this year’s World Day of the Poor invites us to take responsibility for those who are in search of dignity. The World Day of the Poor observance was initiated in 2017 by Pope Francis and has been celebrated annually on the third Sunday in November ever since. Marking the day, a series of initiatives aim to help heal some of the wounds poor people suffer from.

Free medical assistance

One of these is difficulty in accessing healthcare. In Rome, in the week preceding the World Day, the Mother of Mercy Outpatient Clinic, a mobile clinic located at the Colonnade of St. Peter’s Square offers free medical assistance and is a beacon of hope for the city’s homeless persons and for families and individuals in need. It counts over 50 medical staff and personnel who offer medical visits, write up prescriptions and provide free pharmaceuticals to those who cannot afford them. 

Medical centre in St. Peter's Square

Medical centre in St. Peter’s Square

Holy Mass and Lunch with the Pope

Customary to this day is Holy Mass in St Peter’s Basilica presided over by Pope Francis with poor people assisted by charitable organizations from across Italy. Then, in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father joins a group of poor people and refugees for a lunch organised by the Dicastery for the Service of Charity. 

Listen to the poor

In his Message for this year’s World Day of the Poor, released on 13 June, the Holy Father stressed that “We are living in times that are not particularly sensitive to the needs of the poor. The pressure to adopt an affluent lifestyle increases, while the voices of those dwelling in poverty tend to go unheard”.

Mass in St Peter's Basilica for World Day of the Poor in 2022

Mass in St Peter’s Basilica for World Day of the Poor in 2022

Sant’Egidio 

Amongst those listening to the cry of the poor is the community of Sant’Egidio, which works tirelessly to assist those in need. Present throughout the world, the Rome-based community has organised initiatives to mark the day across the globe, wherever it is present: in Europe, in Africa, in Asia and in Latin America. These initiatives are also dedicated to the elderly, children who live on the streets, refugees and prisoners.

In a statement released prior to the day, Sant’Egidio writes that the day is an opportunity for everyone, everywhere to receive a message of solidarity and hope that invites everyone to a fresh start.

File photo of a lunch for the poor organized by Sant'Egidio at the Irish College in Rome

File photo of a lunch for the poor organized by Sant’Egidio at the Irish College in Rome

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