There is no sign that says “food for the poor”. There is no conspicuously placed donation basket. There is no hot meal being offered or an inviting area to sit and eat. However, there is a simple hearty snack. “Whoever comes here really needs it!” says Friar Ludwig MOSCHEL the Porter at the gatehouse of the Heilig Kreuz Jesu Christi Friary in Würzburg, Germany.
History tells us that the friary gatehouse located on the Franziskanergasse (Franciscan Alley) has always offered a snack. The snack consists of a few slices of bread, some butter, jam, cheese and sausage—all very simple. Between 300 and 400 people come every month and thus save a few Euros. Nobody has to register, nobody has to prove their indigence, nobody has to show identification; they are simply helped. Mostly, the offering is just a snack, but sometimes it also contains a good word for the journey, some advice or words of consolation.
According to the Guardian, Friar Adam KALINOWSKI, not many stories are told about the food offered at the gatehouse, because: “It is part of our tradition: we are simply there. In the Middle Ages, our friaries were built on the outskirts of the city to be next to the poor. We were often the first port of call and sometimes the last.” Of course, over the centuries, the Order also produced great theologians and popes; it took on important pastoral care assignments and founded various religious works. Fortunately, however, we have never completely lost our link with the beginning of the Order, namely, “being there for people who are in need and who simply need help,” as Friar Adam says. In keeping with this tradition, the twenty friars at the friary in Würzburg can still be seen today, in an unspectacular way, simply there
During the coronavirus crisis, charitable offerings, such as the food distribution at the friary gatehouse, are again at the center of public interest. Friar Ludwig has thus studied the statistics and quickly noticed a trend. In March of 2019 350 portions were distributed. In March of 2020, 451 were distributed; an increase of almost 30%. This April, the increase is even more significant: as of April 6, 120 meals have already been distributed. Over the same period last year, only 57 portions had gone out. The food is financed entirely by money that people donate to the “Antoniusbrot” offering (St. Anthony’s bread), here at our church on the Franziskanergasse.
Friar Andreas MURK