The Ferragosto lunch at the Comunità di sant'Egido | Photo: Comunità di Sant'Egidio
The Ferragosto lunch at the Comunità di sant'Egido | Photo: Comunità di Sant'Egidio

For a national holiday in Italy on August 15, volunteers participated in initiatives organized by Caritas and the Community of Sant'Egidio to provide assistance, meals, and social activities for migrants and refugees. The organizations said the initiatives had high participation.

As in previous years, volunteers with Caritas and the Community of Sant'Egidio in Rome didn't go on vacation for the August 15 Ferragosto holiday, which commemorates Mary's assumption to heaven and usually marks the start of summer vacation for most Italians.

Instead, they remained to provide support to migrants and the poor through initiatives of support and integration as well as meal services throughout the 51 operating Caritas centres in the city. 

250 workers provided services in assistance facilities including soup kitchens, hostels, lodging communities, and family homes. The majority of the workers were young people from parish groups and ecclesiastical associations from communities in Rome and other dioceses. 

More than 1,800 meals were distributed and 600 people received accommodation for the night. 

Initiatives on August 15 holiday 

The day began at 10:30 a.m. with Mass at the Caritas Santa Giacinta centre. In the afternoon, there was a watermelon social with guests at the Don Luigi di Liegro Caritas centre in collaboration with the Rome Agroalimentary Centre (CAR). 

The Community of Sant'Egidio, in the face of "many signs of uncertainty and fear", sponsored for August 15 a large "Watermelon Social for Integration" that crisscrossed Italy with various initiatives "in the name of a better future for our country, which can be built starting now." 

Sant'Egidio said that as part of the initiative, which in Rome took place in Piazza Vittorio, located in the multiethnic Esquilino district, the elderly and migrants - "the new Italians" - came out "to celebrate together and show that it's not only possible to live together, but it's a great chance for a society that seems blocked and unable to reach to a general pessimism." 

The Community of Sant'Egidio said the event demonstrated shared solidarity also with the homeless, "friends of the Community." In Rome at the soup kitchen on Via Dandolo 10, there was also a special "solidarity lunch".  

 Sant'Egidio said the events it promoted throughout Italy for the August 15 had high rates of participation.

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