On Sunday, Nov. 13, the Catholic Church will celebrate the 6th World Day of the Poor.
The day was established by Pope Francis at the end of the Year of Mercy, “so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need,” he wrote in a 2017 message.
In his message for this year’s World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis said that no Christian is exempt from helping those with fewer resources than ourselves.
The worst thing that can happen to a Christian community is to be “dazzled by the idol of wealth, which ends up chaining us to an ephemeral and bankrupt vision of life,” he said. “Where the poor are concerned, it is not talk that matters; what matters is rolling up our sleeves and putting our faith into practice through a direct involvement, one that cannot be delegated.”
With the help of businesses and charities, here is what Pope Francis and the Vatican are doing to mark the day.
Mass and lunch with the poor
On Sunday, Nov. 13, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with the poor and anyone else who would like to participate.
Afterward, a hot lunch will be served in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall to 1,300 people living in poverty.
Free medical care
This week leading up to the World Day of the Poor, a mobile health clinic has been set up in St. Peter’s Square to give free health screenings and medical care to those who might otherwise not have access.
Services offered include general check-ups, electrocardiograms, blood tests, flu shots, COVID-19 tests, and screening for HIV, Hepatitis C, and Tuberculosis.
Food for families and paid utility bills
The Vatican is giving 5,000 boxes of food to parishes around Rome to distribute to families in need of extra help.
The initiative includes 10 tons of pasta, five tons each of rice, flour, sugar, salt, and coffee, and over 1,300 gallons of oil and milk to provide households with their basic food needs.
As an energy crisis continues to raise costs in Europe, some charitable organizations in Rome have also been given funds to cover the gas and electric bills of people struggling to make ends meet.
Before his general audience on Nov. 9, Pope Francis blessed a new sculpture by the Catholic artist Timothy Schmalz.
The life-size bronze work, called “Sheltering,” depicts a flying dove pulling a blanket over the naked body of a sleeping homeless person.
Schmalz, who is from Canada, is known for his religious- and social-themed sculptures, including “Homeless Jesus,” a copy of which can be found inside the Vatican.
He is also the creator of the “Angels Unawares” sculpture depicting immigrants and refugees and located in St. Peter’s Square.
The global Vincentian Family commissioned Schmalz’s latest work — a movement of religious congregations, lay associations, and charities inspired by St. Vincent de Paul — to highlight homelessness worldwide.
The story was updated at 7:30am MST on Nov. 12, 2022 to correct the source of Pope Francis' quote about establishing the World Day of the Poor.
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