Pope Francis received the members of the St Peter’s Circle on Thursday in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican.
The Circolo San Pietro as it is known in Italian was founded in Rome in 1869 through the efforts of a group of enthusiastic young men from the families of Roman nobility, who desired to witness to the world their fidelity to the Pope and to defend him during a difficult moment in the history of the papacy.
Today the Circle is essentially a charitable sodality: members distribute 50 thousand meals every year in three kitchens in various parts of the city of Rome; they offer family-style hospitality to parents whose children are admitted for care at the “Bambin Gesù” pediatric hospital, as well as to needy young women studying at university; the circle also distributes new clothing items to those in need through parishes, religious communities and other charitable organizations.
In his remarks to members on Thursday, Pope Francis thanked them for their continued support of the Pope and their work in favor of the poor, as well as for the special collection campaign called “St Peter’s mite”, which the circle makes for the Pope in Roman parishes each year.
“Dear friends,” said Pope Francis, “continue to be a visible sign of Christ’s charity toward those who find themselves in need – both in the material and in the spiritual sense – and also to the pilgrims who come to Rome from all around the world.”