Who prays at the funeral of homeless people who die from the cold?
Papal almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski offered a funeral Mass Monday for a 64-year-old homeless man who died in Rome. He was joined by another Cardinal, an Archbiishop, and a dozen other priests.
Roberto Mantovani, was no VIP. e died in a homeless shelter near Rome’s Termini train station after contracting pneumonia.
Cardinal Krajewski, who knew Mantovani, said that he chose the reading from the Gospel of Luke in which Christ recounts the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, for the funeral Mass because “Robert always slept in front of a closed door.”
His funeral took place one day after Pope Francis prayed for another homeless man, a 46-year-old Nigerian man named Edwin, who was found dead near St. Peter’s Square last week.
“On 20 January, just a few meters from St Peter’s Square, a Nigerian homeless man named Edwin was found dead from the cold,” said the pope. “His plight is similar to that of many other homeless people who have died recently in Rome under the same dramatic circumstances.”
He continued: “May we be reminded of the words of St. Gregory the Great, who, when faced with the death of a mendicant from cold, said that Masses would not be celebrated that day because it was like Good Friday.”
“Let us think about Edwin. Let us think of what this man, 46 years old, felt in the cold, ignored by all, abandoned, even by us. Let us pray for him.”
A powerful reminder for me not to forget to pray for the homeless and in this winter complicated by COVID
According to the news website RomaToday, Edwin was the fourth homeless person to die this year in Rome, where there are an estimated 8,000 homeless people. Many sleep along the edge of Bernini’s colonnade, the semi-circular columns enclosing St. Peter’s Square.
PS. On the same day that Edwin’s body was discovered, the Vatican began vaccinating homeless people in its care against COVID-19.