– On July 1 Pope Francis invited a group of 200 homeless individuals to dinner at the Vatican, where they were served in his name by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello.
Cardinal Bertello, president of the Governatorate of the Vatican City State, spent the entire evening with the special guests, with whom he chatted at length and shared personal experiences, according to the July 3 edition of L’Osservatore Romano. “I welcome you in the name of the Pope. As you know, this is your home, and he is pleased that you are here,” he told the group of homeless persons before dinner was served.
The dinner took place near the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Vatican. “Our Lady who stands before us looks upon us with serenity,” the cardinal said. “It is that same gaze that I wish upon each one of you and upon those who care for you with so much love.”
The dinner was organized by the Circle of Saint Peter, a papal charity. The evening was only one of a number of such events it holds throughout the year at its shelter in Rome “as a concrete sign of the Pope’s charity.” After his welcoming address, Cardinal Bertello invited the guests to pray and said that their response “was a great success.” The group was brought to the Vatican by bus and was received by 122 members of the Circle of St. Peter, led by its president, Leopoldo Torlonia.
The homeless were among the many that come to the organization’s shelter each day for meals, a place to sleep, and clean clothing. The menu for the dinner was prepared by chefs from Naples, and members of the Circle acted as waiters, along with their wives and children. The Vatican Gendarmes Band performed for the guests, providing them with entertainment as they dined. At the end of the evening, Torlonia thanked the guests for “accepting the invitation from Pope Francis.” Each was given a gift pack with pastries, fresh fruit, and a rosary.