Vatican prepares for first World Day of the Poor

A mobile clinic arrived in front of St Peter's Square on Monday. Offering specialist medical services to the poor and needy, it is one of initiatives leading up to this Sunday's first World Day of the Poor, called for by Pope Francis at the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

The Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation on Tuesday announced a number of special events that are taking place throughout the week. They include a special Mass and prayers, and a festive lunch.

On Sunday morning in St Peter's Basilica, some 4,000 poor and needy people, accompanied by volunteers from Italy, France, Spain, Brussels, Luxembourg and Poland will take part in a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

Following the Eucharist, 1,500 of the visitors will be invited to lunch in the adjacent Paul VI Hall, while the other 2,500 guests will be taken to lunch in some of the Catholic colleges, seminaries and charitable organisations in the vicinity of the Vatican.

Those dining in the Paul VI Hall will be served a meal of gnocchi with tomato sauce and veal stew with vegetables, plus tiramisu and coffee for desert, all prepared by papal chef Sergio Dussin from Bassano del Grappa in Italy's northern Veneto region.

The Vatican police band and a children's choir will provide music during the lunch, which has been organised in collaboration with a number of local charity organisations and parishes.

On the previous evening, 18 Saturday at 8pm, there will also be a prayer vigil in the ancient Rome Basilica of St Lawrence to remember volunteers all over the world who offer their services in support of the poor and marginalized.

The mobile clinic will be offering free specialized medical services from 9am to 4pm all week.

A special booklet marking this first World Day of the Poor has also been published in six languages as a pastoral aid for dioceses and parishes worldwide who wish to take part in this important initiative.

Pope Francis released his message for the First World Day of the Poor on the Feast of St Anthony in June. Read the official English translation of the message here:

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