“I express my appreciation to each of you for what you do every day in the service of the weakest sectors of our city’s population. Your association, as part of the ecclesial reality of the diocese of Rome, is an expression of the ‘outgoing’ Church: a Church that walks to search, visit, meet, listen, share and stop by at the poorest people.” These are the words Pope Francis pronounced during the audience with the members of the ‘St. Peter’s Circle’, an association that has been working with the neediest since 1869, in the Clementine Hall.
“Each of you – he said – is not simply asked to reach out to the needy, but to do so bringing them Jesus.” In this Holy Year of Mercy, he said, “as we strive to walk the path of the works of mercy, we are called to renew ourselves in faith. To bring the Lord’s visit to those who suffer in body and spirit, we must cultivate faith, that faith which is born from the Word of God and is looking for a profound communion with Jesus.”
“I encourage you – Francis said – to go on witnessing to the Gospel of charity, to be ever more a sign and instrument of God’s tenderness towards everyone, especially towards the most fragile and discarded.” The Pope also thanked “for Peter’s Pence offer, which you collect in all churches as a sign of your participation in the solicitude of the Bishop of Rome to the poverty of this city”.
The Circolo San Pietro was founded in Rome in 1869 on the initiative of a group of young people, led by Cardinal Iacobini, it is born from the enthusiasm of the upper-middle-class and noble Roman families’ young people, who wanted to show the world their fidelity to the Pope and defend him from anti-clerical attacks during this difficult moment in the history of Papacy.
Thus began a flurry of activity through the Catholic press, collection of signatures, celebrations and gestures of solidarity that were greatly appreciated by Blessed Pius IX. The Pope, with foresight and wisdom, entrusts them the first charitable commitment in favor of the poor.
It can thus be said that the approval received during that historical audience is the beginning of the many charitable and welfare activities the association offered to the diocese of the Pope. For over a century, the inhabitants of Rome have been calling this charity la minestra del Papa, that is, ‘the Pope’s soup’. Unconditional Loyalty the Church and to the Roman Pontiff are the hallmark of the ancient sodality, which summarizes his charisma in the motto: Prayer, Action, and Sacrifice. The association is part of the history of Rome: it went through two world wars, disasters, new expressions of poverty, trying to give comfort and aid to the poor at every step.