EWTN television carried the papal visit to the Sant’Egidio community live yesterday, for which I did the English-language commentary. It was a lot of work and also very instructive to research Sant’Egidio about which I knew a fair amount but learned a lot more over the weekend – its founders, its history, its work in Rome and the world, and the countless opportunities it offers all of us as volunteers to give aid to the homeless, the unemployed, prisoners, the very ill, those who live alone and are lonely, migrants and refugees.

I had never searched the name Egidio but the websites notes that Egidio is Giles in English.

I also researched the very beautiful basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere – a church I know from many visits – in order to provide an account of its history, architecture, unique features and also its relationship to Sant’Egidio – what we call “color commentary” or background.

Trastevere is a very old neighborhood of Rome (many say only the Roman Forum area of Rome is older!) but I’ve often wondered if the thousands of visitors who have had a meal or two or three here know what the name Trastevere means! Tras means ‘across’ and Tevere means ‘Tiber’!

Fortunately the Vatican provided the papal speech in both Italian and English – a gift to those of us doing a commentary. However, the seven speeches by Impagliazzo, Riccardi, Santa Maria’s pastor and the four witnesses were all in Italian so that part of the coverage was a translation marathon.

I wish I had time now to give a detailed account of the amazing work done by the Sant’Egidio community, a group of people who are truly revered in Rome. I hope they are well known throughout the world given their countless initiatives for what Pope Francis calls the “three Ps” – – Prayer, the Poor, Peace.

Here is a link to their website:

You can probably watch a replay on EWTN’s Youtube page.


Here is a link to a video realized yesterday, Sunday, March 11 by Vatican media:

Pope Francis arrived at Trastevere’s famed Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere a bit after 4:30 in the afternoon and made brief, off the cuff remarks under a tent-like structure given the rain that was falling. In fact, part of the ceremony was to take place in the square and part in the beautiful and historical basilica by the dame name but most of the event was moved inside due to the inclement conditions.

The president of Sant’Egidio, Marco Impagliazzo, welcomed the Holy Father, Following his remarks, the Pope and the official party processed into the basilica, accompanied by a choir. The Liturgy of the Word was celebrated, the pastor of Santa Maria in Trastevere spoke and the faithful prayed the Our Father and exchanged a sign of peace.

At this point, four people gave very moving testimonies about the Sant’Egidio community’s work in Rome, where it was founded 50 years ago by Andrea Riccardi and some high school classmates, and around the world in 70 countries. The four included an eloquent 80-year old Roman grandmother, Giovanna La Vecchia, 15-year old Jafar, a Syrian Palestinian from Damascus who arrived Rome two years ago aided by Sant’Egidio, Laura Guida, 23, a member of the community’s Youth for Peace group and Mauro Garofalo, 41, head of international relations for Sant’Egidio.

Andrea Riccardi then addressed the Holy Father who, in turn, addressed the assemblage. I have not, as I write, found his address at – only the video link.


Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences to Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz, following the death of Cardinal Karl Lehmann on Sunday, 11 March. He paid tribute to the stature of the late cardinal, recalling his fruitful activity as theologian, bishop and president of the German Episcopal Conference.

Religious and political leaders mourn the death of Cardinal Karl Lehmann (photo: ANSA)

In a telegram addressed to the current bishop of Mainz, the town where Lehmann served as bishop until 2016, the Pope described the Cardinal as having “contributed to shaping the life of the Church and of society, always open to the issues and the challenges of the time and committed to offering answers and orientations stemming from Christ’s message.”

Cardinal Lehmann, Francis went on to say, was someone who was ever present to accompany people in their lives, always “seeking the thread that unites and overcomes the boundaries drawn by different confessions, certainties or States.”

He assured his heartfelt prayers for those who are grieving the loss of the Cardinal whom, he said, the Lord has called to Himself following a grave illness and much suffering. The Pope concluded his message imploring Jesus to give his faithful servant fulfillment in the Kingdom of heaven. (


Bernice Albertine King visits Pope Francis while in Italy to receive an award recognizing her commitment to non-violence and peace.

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (

Pope Francis received in audience this morning the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr, Bernice Albertine King who presented the Holy Father with the sixth volume of the series entitled “The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr: Advocate of the Social Gospel, September 1948-1963”.

Bernice King was awarded an International Prize recognizing women involved in non-violence and peace initiatives. Gabriela Lio, a Baptist pastor says that, “In the present racist and xenophobic climate, giving an award to Bernice King puts the spotlight on Martin Luther King’s legacy of non-violence, by recovering the courage of a faith that welcomes, encounters, and dialogues, which in this moment cannot but be interreligious. The legacy of which Bernice King is an authoritative spokesperson reconnects these aspects of the faith as a lesson of consistency between what is believed, what is preached, and what is practiced.”

The award ceremony took place on March 10 in Monteleone di Puglia in the Province of Foggia and was organized by the Gandhi Centre located in Pisa, and Rocco Altieri, a pacifist and an authority on the issue of non-violence.