|Established in Rome in '60s
VATICAN CITY, 28 JUNE 2006 (ZENIT)
Here is the description of the
Community of Sant'Egidio which appears in the Directory of International
Associations of the Faithful, published by the Pontifical Council for
* * *
Official name: Sant'Egidio Community
Also known as: Sant'Egidio
History: The Community of Sant'Egidio was established in Rome by Andrea
Riccardi. In the climate of renewal created by the Second Vatican
Council, he began to gather together a group of high school students, of
which he was one, to listen to the Gospel and put it into practice.
Within a few years, the experience spread to other groups of students,
and they began to work on behalf of the marginalized. In the
working-class districts on the outskirts of Rome they began their work
of evangelization which led to the establishment of communities of
In 1973 the first church of the community was opened in the Trastevere
district of Rome. In the Church of Sant'Egidio, it became the custom to
hold evening community prayer, and this has accompanied the life of all
the communities throughout the world ever since.
In the latter half of the 1970s, the community also began to be
established in other Italian towns, and in the 1980s it spread in
Europe, and to Africa, America and Asia.
From the outset, specific features of the community have been service to
the very poor and defense of human dignity and human rights, together
with prayer and the communication of the Gospel. It has established ways
of helping and extending friendship where there is poverty, both in its
old and new forms (elderly people living alone and unable to cope,
immigrants, homeless people, terminally ill and AIDS sufferers, children
at risk of delinquency and social "out-casting," itinerants and
physically and mentally disabled people, drug addicts, war victims,
inmates and people under sentence of death).
The poor are the daily companions of life and of the work of the members
of the community, as their friends and [as] part of their family. It is
precisely this friendship that has given Sant'Egidio a clearer
understanding of the way that war is the mother of all forms of poverty,
and hence their explicit commitment to working for peace.
On May 18, 1986, the Pontifical Council for the Laity decreed the
Comunità di Sant'Egidio to be an international association of the
faithful of pontifical right.
Identity: The Community of Sant'Egidio is a community family rooted in
different local churches.
The term "community" reflects, among other things, a need for fellowship
which is particularly deeply felt because the members of the community
live fully within the world, in the anonymous life of large modern
cities. Friendship is therefore the distinctive feature of Sant'Egidio,
both among themselves, and as an attitude of friendship and interest in
the world and other ecclesial experiences.
The spiritual benchmarks of the community have always been the first
Christian community in the Acts of the Apostles, the Church's
preferential love for the poor, and the primacy of prayer.
A pronounced sense of God's mercy for the sick and for sinners; Jesus'
compassion for the crowds; his invitation to proclaim the Gospel of the
Kingdom and to heal all manner of disease and sickness
this all nurtures the life and personal spirituality of the members as
they listen daily to the Word of God and persevere in personal and
Its lay character and the fact that the communities are in the large
towns and cities has led to the development of a specifically "urban"
spirituality, which brings together the people who are scattered by
their daily lives and responsibilities (family, professional, civil)
around the primacy of evangelization and service.
One essential part of this "recomposition" is the community evening
prayer which is open to anyone wishing to attend.
Organization: The community is governed by the president, assisted by a
council, and an ecclesiastical assistant. The president and the council
are elected every five years by the General Assembly of the
representatives of all the community groups. (In countries where there
are several communities, if deemed useful, a national president can be
Membership: The Community of Sant'Egidio comprises a network of small
fraternal life communities, with about 50,000 members in 72 countries,
in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America.
Works: The Community of Sant'Egidio has established various forms of
assistance to the poor. In addition to canteens, it runs language
courses for immigrants; centers that distribute aid; afternoon schools
for children; centers for the disabled; centers for the elderly;
outpatient units; and centers for the mentally disturbed.
The community runs an art school for the disabled; homes for children
and teen-agers; hostels for the chronically sick and the homeless; homes
for non self-reliant elderly people; and sheltered houses for partially
self-reliant elderly people.
Sant'Egidio has also set up a hospital in Guinea-Bissau for tuberculosis
patients, and a national center to prevent and treat AIDS in Mozambique.
In the 1990s the community also established Paese dell'Arcobaleno
movement for children and youngsters); Scuole del Vangelo, for adults
and families; Viva gli Anziani, for the [elderly]; Gli Amici, for the
disabled and sick; and Genti di Pace, for immigrants.
A number of nongovernmental organizations are also linked to Sant'Egidio,
working in the field of development cooperation and solidarity, for
example in Kosovo, Albania, EI Salvador and Guatemala.
Web site: http://www.santegidio.org
Comunità di Sant'Egidio
Piazza Sant'Egidio, 3/a
Tel. (39) 06.585.661
© Copyright 2006
Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]