Community of Sant’Egidio: Christmas Lunch

The Community of Sant’ Egidio at Holy Trinity Catholic Church will host the following Christmas lunches this year:

  • for the poor children of Yeoville on Christmas Eve, Saturday 24th December at 12h30 and
  • for the homeless on the Christmas day, Sunday 25th December, at 12h30

so that they too will experience the joy of the birth of our Lord.

Where did the tradition of Christmas Lunch arise?

The Christmas Lunch with the poor is a tradition of the Community of Sant’Egidio since when, in 1982, a small group of poor people was welcomed at the banquet table in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. There were about 20 people invited: some elderly of the neighbourhood friends of ours, who would have staid at home alone on that day, and some homeless people we had got to know in the streets of Rome. Since then it has spread around the world, and finds a welcome home at Holy Trinity.

Why, right at Christmas, does the Community gather with the poor at the banquet table?

The Community is a family gathered by the Gospel. Therefore at Christmas, when all over the world families gather around the table, the Community of Sant’Egidio celebrates with the poor, who are our friends and our relatives.

St Francis used to say that Christmas is “the feast of the feasts”, which means that it should embrace everybody, none excepted. Tommaso da Celano writes that “Francesco in this day wanted the rich to satiate all the beggars, and wanted the oxes and the donkeys to receive a more plantiful ration of food and hay…”

In Greccio, the village of central Italy where he had prepared the crib for the first time, St Francis went to the friars’ banquet dressed like the poor, to remind them that everyone should take part in the feast, and particularly the poor.

At Christmas, all over the world, families gather, buy presents to exchange with each other under the tree, prepare the table for the feast: but for those who don’t have anybody, this feast, more than all others, turns into a very sad day.

This is the reason why the Community of Sant’Egidio wishes, on the very day Jesus was born, poor for the world’s salvation, to gather as a big family where everybody can feel at home. It is the most beautiful image, which explains to the world eloquently the Community way of staying among the people and particularly with the poor.

Message from the Community of Sant’Egidio

Christmas 2016

Christmas is the feast of a baby, the feast of Jesus…

This year, we think about the many children who did not find a place in our societies. Just like Jesus who didn’t find a place the night he was born.

We think about the children, sons and daughters of migrants: how many images of sorrow we have seen from the Mediterranean sea!
This year Christmas is also the celebration of all the children who have been saved, through the humanitarian corridors.
They arrived safely in our country, in Europe, saved from war.

Christmas is also the celebration of a family: not only my family or yours, but the whole human family. In fact we of Sant’Egidio look at the world as a universal fraternity where there should be a place for all especially for those who are weak and more vulnerable.

For them we prepare a feast, the Christmas Lunch, where no one is excluded – especially those who are excluded throughout the year.

Christmas is also a celebration of peace. And from Sant’Egidio we send our wish of Peace to all the world. Peace for our cities, may everyone find a place. Peace for all who suffer because of war.

May each of us do their part on Christmas, offer their help so that it may be Christmas for the children, for the marginalised, the feast of a family, a Christmas of peace.

From Sant’Egidio, Merry Christmas!
Marco Impagliazzo
President of the Community of Sant’Egidio