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March 24 2014 | WÜRZBURG, GERMANY

New soup-kitchens, a solidarity network and spaces for memory

to respond to the dramatic increase of the homeless in German cities

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The number of people living on the streets has increased dramatically in recent years in Germany. The Community of Sant'Egidio has for years been at the side of these people in a work of solidarity and friendship in several German cities. In Munich, apart from the itinerant dinners at the central station and other places, a soup-kitchen has been now open for one year in the parish of St. Sylvester, where the community gathers for the evening prayer. In Würzburg, for many years now, the soup-kitchen, in the district of Zellerau, has become a point of reference for many poor people.

The illness and death of so many homeless people are a request for companionship and solace to which there is often no response. In big cities like Berlin, Hamburg and Munich almost 50 % of people are buried in an anonymous way. Their name no longer exists and there is no-one at the burial.

The liturgy to commemorate those who died on the street and in solitude has a long history, from Rome, from the memory of Modesta Valenti, a homeless woman, left in agony for hours in Rome's central station amid general indifference.

In Würzburg, on 18 March, this year too, in an ecumenical celebration in central Marienkapelle, they remembered the names of hundreds of homeless friends. Since the death in 1989 of Fritz Werner Marschner, a homeless man well known in the city, the Community has given rise each year to an ecumenical memorial attended by many.

In the central cemetery of Würzburg  the Community, with the help of other Christian organisations, has built a chapel in which the poor have been buried for years, who would otherwise be buried in mass graves in an anonymous way.


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