The Pope stepped up the platform in the outer courtyard while the youth choir from Fr. Ghio’s nearby parish, the “Navicella”, sang the “Te Deum” in German. At the end of the visit, His Holiness greeted all of the people in the community. The Holy Father was accompanied by Camillo Cardinal Ruini and the auxiliary bishop for this area of downtown Rome, Monsignor Ernesto Manara. After having listened to brief speeches given by Guerino Di Tora, the Director of the local diocesan Caritas office, and some of the volunteers and visitors of the Center, the Holy Father spoke about the significance of the Center. “This place is somewhat of a symbol for all of Rome. In this place it is possible to find the presence of Christ in the brother that gives you something to eat. It is only by adhering to the message of love that is communicated by the Nativity of Christ that it is possible to experience the depths of true joy.”
The very joy lived by Roberto, a 40 year old man that spoke as representative of all those that benefit from the Center’s services. “In this place, Your Holiness, I have not only been able to find a plate of food, but the family that I lost”. The day ended with the Holy Father’s Apostolic blessing and an encore performance of the “Te Deum” in German, one of the Holy Father’s favorite hymns.
Now it was time to get back to an ordinary day. As all of the visitors began to vacate the premises, at the main entrance gate, all of the Center’s “ordinary guests” began to arrive. All those persons that everyday at Noon arrive and are offered their daily bread.