Founded on May 28, 1988, by John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, young women in difficulty are received at the Gift of Mary House, and there is a soup kitchen for the needy.
There are some 70 young women living there now.
The soup kitchen outside is for men. It opens every day at 5:30 p.m. and the needy must take a number one hour before. In the main, the needy are foreigners without a home. They do not have to show any type of document, or pay to obtain the benefit. Sometimes a gendarme of the Vatican is present, although in general they are all very peaceful.
The light meal begins with a short prayer and ends with a religious song. The food is simple, generally a plate of pasta and a second plate, such as meatballs or fish accompanied by a salad or potatoes. Usually there is fruit or a sweet or yogurt for dessert.
The soup kitchen is on a lower level, accessed by stairs from the street. It is adorned with several murals, among them some of Mother Teresa and also of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.
John Paul II visited the House nine times during his pontificate, and the day of its inauguration he praised “Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who from the beginning followed with interest and dedication the whole realization of the project. Entrusted to her daughters were the functions of guide and assistance.”
Benedict XVI witnessed the implementation of the center when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and he visited the Gift of Mary House in January of 2008.
He recalled: “When this House was born, Blessed Mother Teresa wished to call it ‘Gift of Mary,’ hoping that here the love of the Holy Virgin would always be felt. For anyone who comes to call at the door, it is a gift of Mary to feel welcomed by loving arms, and the nuns and volunteers.”
The German Pontiff noted his hopes that the guests, in addition to the material aid, would “be able to communicate to all those they met daily, the same passion for Christ and the luminous ‘smile of God’ that animated the existence of Mother Teresa.”