· Three homeless men invited to his birthday ·
“Would you like to come to Pope Francis' birthday party?”. On hearing those words, they rubbed their sleepy eyes and asked themselves if they had understood correctly. Then, after a moment of bewilderment and wonder, they began to tidy their makeshift cardboard and blanket beds, arranged to the best of their ability to protect them from the bitter cold of Rome.
What happened to these three homeless men, doesn't happen everyday. The men – all around the age of 40 – often take shelter under the portico of the Holy See Press Office on Via della Conciliazione. And on Tuesday, 17 December, the Almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski went there early in the morning and invited the first people he found to celebrate Pope Francis' 77th birthday.
The men, who are from Slovakia, Poland and Czech Republic, couldn't believe it. They put their belongings in the trunk of the Almoner's car and boarded, placing their dog in the middle seat and headed for the Santa Marta Residence.
The three men waited for Mass to end and the Almoner presented them to the Pontiff. They had brought a special gift for their host: a bouquet of sunflowers. Archbishop Krajewski explained that the flowers were chosen because they turn towards the sun, just like the Church always looks upon her Son, Christ.
Pope Francis invited them to eat breakfast with him in the refectory of Santa Marta. They exchanged a few kind words in an atmosphere of confidence and great familiarity. “It's worth being homeless”, one of them exclaimed to the Pontiff, “because we were received by the Pope!”.
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