By Linda Bordoni
Men and women of goodwill across the world are invited to set another place at the Christmas table for someone in need.
Kicking off its annual campaign to offer Christmas lunch to the poor, to the homeless, to families in difficulty, the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio is asking for contributions – whatever they may amount to – in order to be able to offer a tangible sign of closeness and care to our brothers and sisters in need.
The Christmas Lunch across the world
Thanks to the help of Sant’Egidio friends across the globe, the initiative last year saw over 50,00 poor people in Italy, and over 200,000 across the world, invited to celebrate Christmas and enjoy a special lunch together thanks to the “Set another place at the Christmas table” campaign.
The Christmas Lunch with the poor tradition goes back 35 years when a small group of poor people was welcomed to participate in a banquet set up in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Those invited included some elderly people, a handful of neighbourhood friends who would have spent the day alone, and some homeless people who slept ‘out and about’ in the area.
Since then the initiative has grown and spread from Rome’s Trastevere district where Sant’Egidio has its home, to many parts of the world, wherever the Community is present.
In Rome, lunch still takes place beneath the frescoes in the magnificent Basilica, but Christmas meals are organized for the poor in many different venues as well, including old-age homes, prisons and of course other churches and basilicas.
Service to the poor
Service to the poor is one of the main missions of the Sant’Egidio Community which sees itself as a family united by the Gospel. That’s why, Sant’Egidio members insist, while families across the world gather around the table to celebrate the coming of the Lord, the Community does so with the poor “who are our friends and family”.
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