This morning, in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, volunteers from the Community of Sant'Egidio and homeless people, together, gathered around the memory of Modesta Valenti, the woman who died 39 years ago at the Termini train station because, being dirty, the ambulance refused to take her to the hospital.
Along with hers, the names of the many homeless people who, since then, have lost their lives in the streets of Rome, up to this winter have been read. In memory of each of them candles were lit in front of the Icon painted in honour of Modesta. "Jesus, rejected in Nazareth by his fellow citizens - said Fr Vittorio Ianari in his homily - found himself on the street feeling the same rejection and the same marginalisation experienced by Modesta. Nevertheless He struggled so that exclusion was not the last word". The street cannot be a conviction. It is the story of the many former homeless people helped to get out of it, about 300, only in Rome, those who have found a roof in both sharing homes and night shelters opened by Sant'Egidio in recent years.
This winter, still marked by the serious effects of the pandemic, from the Eucharistic celebration in Santa Maria in Trastevere comes a new appeal against indifference - addressed to all citizens and institutions - to find proper housing solutions. A mobilisation that will continue in the coming weeks, not only in Rome but also in several Italian cities, where other Eucharistic services will be celebrated in memory of Modesta.