Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who celebrated the Feb. 2 Mass in Santa Maria in Trastevere, said that on his way to the liturgy he greeted Pope Francis who told him that he could not make the Mass but to pass on the message that he sent "a strong, strong, strong hug!"
Every year on this date, the Sant'Egidio Community, along with volunteers and associations who assist the homeless, celebrate Mass in the name of all the poor and homeless who have lost their lives due to inadequate living conditions and as a result of their abandonment.
The memory of their names represents a form of consolation for each one, the promise that they will never be forgotten and to remind others of the extreme poverty on the streets. Candles are also lit in their memory.
The idea for the Mass came after Modesta Valenti, an elderly woman without a fixed abode, died in 1983 when, after taking ill in Rome's Termini rail station, was refused transit by ambulance because she was “dirty”.
The liturgical celebration was attended by the poor and their friends, numbering about 500, who were given lunch held after the celebration - especially appreciated in view of current bad weather in the Italian capital.
This memorial has been extended to many parishes in Rome and other cities in Italy and throughout the world, wherever the Sant'Egidio Community is close to those who live on the streets.
At the end of the liturgy, the celebrants offered a flower and an image of the Blessed Mother to each person.