Benedetta Capelli - Vatican City
It's another Good Friday: Those were Pope Francis’ words on Sunday at the Angelus, as he spoke of the death of Edwin, the homeless Nigerian killed by the cold in the street. The Pope recalled what St. Gregory the Great said, that on "that day Masses would not be celebrated" precisely because, in the face of the death of a poor person, it was "like Good Friday."
Today the community of many brothers and sisters born in the street mourns "Robertino," as they called him. Fortunately, he did not die of the cold and fortunately, in recent times, he had listened to the advice of volunteers, and after many bouts pneumonia, had moved to the “Binario 95” shelter at the Termini train station. It was here he passed away, in warmth and not from indifference, the disease that kills the most.
A closed door
Those who were close to him -- from the Community of Sant'Egidio, to the volunteers of “Natale 365”, to the police inspectors who have their office in the square where he spent part of his life – were present Monday morning at the parish of San Pio X, in the Roman district of Balduina. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Pope's almoner, presided over the funeral, concelebrating with Cardinal George Pell; Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; and a dozen priests.
Cardinal Krajewski personally chose the passage from the Gospel of Luke, in which Jesus recounts the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, because "Robert always slept in front of a closed door."
Kicking the ball
"He was a cheerful, sunny person, at the lunches we had he made everyone laugh," Cardinal Krajewski recalled. Because of this, he explained, "he was pampered" by those who knew him. Some, in the past, had even paid for a room in some bed and breakfast in the area around the Vatican for him to spend the night and to thank him for his spontaneity. He made people love him; "he donated,” the Community of Sant'Egidio said, “the jerseys of some soccer teams that he kept in his suitcase. Soccer was his passion.”
A native of Oppeano, a town in the province of Verona where he will be buried next to his parents, he had a played with “Hellas Verona” football club but an injury prevented him from continuing his career. In Robertino's life there were many difficult moments. Living on the streets was not a choice. “Sometimes, the volunteers tell us, “he was sad and angry." Today he would be happy to know that so many people wanted to greet him, despite the anti-Covid restrictions. He would be happy to know that he was not considered ‘a waste,’ but a person with his dignity, his beauty and the love that even a heart hurt by life can generate.