'Church of Francis' holds funeral for homeless trans woman to remind Christians to show mercy

A group of Jesuits held a funeral in the home church of Pope Francis on Friday for a homeless trans woman who was murdered in July. According to the National Catholic Reporter, Rome's Church of the Gesù, mother church to the Jesuit order, held the funeral for 28-year-old Andrea Quintero, a Colombian native and homeless drug addict who called herself "the Trans of Termini," the city's main train station.

A week before her death, Qintero gave an interview to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, explaining that beatings had paralyzed her arm and left her walking with a limp. She told the reporter that she longed to "meet a guy with money who’ll get me out of this ugly life" on the street.

One week later, on July 29, she was found beaten to death alongside Track 10 at Termini station.

For months, officials attempted to find any family members to claim Quintero's body or provide any instructions as to how she wished her remains to be handled. Finally, the Jesuit-run Centro Astalli -- a group dedicated to refugee aid -- stepped forward to organize a funeral in conjunction with civic officials and the Catholic charity organization Caritas.

Centro Astalli's Jesuit director Fr. Giovanni La Manna said that the service is intended to remember and memorialize Quintero, but also to send "a signal for the entire Roman community that’s distracted in the face so many people who face discrimination, and who live their difficulties to the indifference of our city.”

Italian Minister of Integration Cecile Kyenge -- the Congo-born ophthalmologist and first person of color to serve in the Italian Parliament -- is slated to attend the funeral, as well as Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino.

A Vatican spokesperson tweeted that Quintero's funeral is taking place in “the church of Francis,” meaning the home church of Francis' Jesuit order. The statement could also be read, wrote the National Catholic Reporter's John L. Allen Jr., as in the church of St. Francis, "in the sense that it’s a classic gesture of mercy for someone who lived and died at society’s margins."

Watch an Italian news story about Andrea Quintero, embedded below via Redattore Sociale: