In audience with members of the charity St. Peter's Circle this morning the Holy Father praised their efforts and emphasized the importance of charity. He referred St. Jean Vianney as a model of charity whose example invites Catholics to open their arms to all people in need.
Representatives of the Italian group Circolo San Pietro (St. Peter's Circle) met with the Holy Father, as they do every year, to deliver to him personally the fruits of a collection that is destined to finance charitable activities in the Pope's name. The Circle, founded in Rome in 1869, helps the poor through a variety of commissions that offer assistance such as meals and shelter for the homeless and funding for seminarians from poor areas of the world.
Thanking the group for the collection, the Holy Father recognized the figure of St. Jean Vianney as a model of the evangelical life, "especially for those working in the vast field of charity."
He spoke of the 19th century saint's love of the poor, learned from his parents, which led him to give all he had to the impoverished, to the point where he had no personal possessions at all.
"May his example constitute for you, dear associates of the Circle of St. Peter, a constant invitation to open your arms wide to every person that is in need of a tangible sign of solidarity."
Working with the less fortunate, the organization spreads the message of hope, he said, "which springs from the faith and from adherence to the Lord," thus making them "heralds of his Gospel."
The Pope encouraged them to continue to be guided by charity and witness in their apostolate, inspired by Christian principles and finding renewed vigor in prayer and a spirit of sacrifice.
Concluding, Benedict XVI entrusted their aspirations to the protection the Holy Virgin Mary, "Salus Populi Romani," a restored statue of whom he blessed this week.