San Procolo

The Opera di San Procolo was founded by La Pira in 1934, when he was thirty years old.

The basic idea was to gather all the poorest and most neglected citizens of Florence around the Sunday Eucharist in the church of San Procolo. Those who attended this Mass, known for short as the “Messa dei Poveri”, came from the darkest alleyways of the city: from the public dormitory, the hospice, the prisons, the hospitals.

After the Mass the “Professor” would address those present and pray with them for peace, justice and the Church. Bread was blessed and distributed, and also the offering of a tiny coin, which was not charity but the symbol of a mutual sharing that might aspire to loftier and more important acts.

This evangelical idea was extraordinarily successful; so much so that after a few years the Eucharist was celebrated in the neighbouring and larger Badia Fiorentina, while after the war still other churches, such as Santi Apostoli and the Cestello, opened their doors to it. The number of participants reached as many as fifteen hundred.

La Pira himself assiduously attended this Mass until his death, choosing it as the central point of communication and trust in prayer in all his public actions both in Italy and in the world.

After his death its continuance was ensured by Fioretta Mazzei. And even today, after the death of Fioretta, this Eucharist is celebrated in the church of the Badia at nine o’clock every Sunday morning, attended by about 200 of the brethren.

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