“In this confusion the temptation becomes stronger to risk being swept away towards types of messianism which give promises but create illusions.” (Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI – Development of Peoples 1967).
For this reason, the Mission of Hope and Charity of Palermo comes from the experience of those who seek the truth, true freedom and true peace, detached from the materialistic and consumeristic world. The Mission welcomes and assists over 1,000 people (women fleeing from persecution and slavery, men and children) thanks to the work of the missionaries: Brother Biagio, Don Pino, Brother John, Sister Mattia, Sister Alessandra and Sister Lucia, the active collaboration of brothers and sisters, and the great help of over 600 volunteers. Each community has a kitchen and a canteen where three meals a day are prepared and provided, and medical and pharmaceutical assistance are guaranteed to all, and welcomed showers and clothing services are provided to the many poor who knock daily on the door of Mission. Divided into three communities: two intended for ‘men welcome’ and for the hospitality of individual women or mothers with children. The founder of the Mission is Brother Biagio Conte, of the Italian Lay Missionary of St. Francis. A charitable man, brave and peaceful, he openly fights against poverty, indifference, environmental disasters, wars, the Mafia, opulence, corruption, selfishness, slavery of women and racism, in a difficult land like Sicily.
At age 26, Brother Biagio Conte left his life and a wealthy entrepreneurial future to devote himself entirely to the poor, the last ones that contemporary society abandoned to their fate. He risked his life several times to snatch. He supported thousands of people with incredible stories: people that came from Libya, Tunisia, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Congo, Togo, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Palestine and Iraq. They arrived in Sicily after facing a harrowing journey, crammed into boats. They survived any kind of problem. They found in Biagio’s support a place to sleep, a bowl of soup, a loaf of bread, a place where they were not treated as different, as aliens.
On 16 January 2014 it was announced that Brother Biagio Conte (who for years has been confined to a wheelchair because of some crushed vertebrae due to the exhaustingly hard work which has gone into the mission) started walking last summer through a scientifically inexplicable healing after he entered the Holy Waters of Lourdes. The Curia of Palermo has officially stated that it is a miracle. Since 2015, he has walked the spiritual walk by foot and with a cross on his shoulders from Sicily until he reached Pope Francesco I (he met with His Holiness at Santa Marta Church in a private audience). Next summer, he plans on reaching the European Alps.