This didn’t get much attention. But attention must be paid.
Hundreds of homeless people and volunteers prayed together in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere Sunday to honor those who have died on Rome’s streets.
A lit candle was placed before an icon of the merciful Christ for each of the deceased as their names were read aloud in the basilica.
The Catholic community of Sant’Egidio organized the memorial and a lunch reception for all of the participants.
Six homeless people have died in Rome this winter, according to the Catholic movement, who decorated a side altar in the basilica dedicated to their memory. The community also prayed by name for other homeless people who have died in recent years.
The Sant’Egidio community was first inspired to organize the memorial by the story of Modesta Valenti, a woman who died in front of Rome’s Termini train station on Jan. 31, 1983 after an ambulance refused to take her to the hospital because she had lice.
Each following year, the Catholic lay movement has gathered to pray near the anniversary of Valenti’s death for those who have died on the streets.