A homeless woman sits with her belongings outside the Vatican. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)
Pope Opens Homeless Shelter Near Vatican

July 17, 2015 — A shower, a shave and an overnight stay in Vatican City: these are just a few of the services Pope Francis is providing for the thousands of homeless and poor in Rome. In June, the Holy See announced the start of construction of a homeless shelter in Rome, just outside the Vatican walls. It will be able to host 30 people at a time and will be staffed by volunteers. 

This project expands upon the February opening of new shower facilities in St. Peter’s Square. Open every day except Wednesday, when crowds from the pope’s public audiences prevent accessibility, these state-of-the-art facilities are free to all who need them. In addition, every Monday local barbers and students from a nearby hairdressing school offer free haircuts and a shave at the same facility.

“It’s a question of human dignity,” senior Vatican communications advisor Greg Burke told NBC News. And the clients? "I'm very happy with [Pope Francis’] decision," one client told Eurovision before he had his haircut. "Pope Francis found the right solution for us.”

Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has shown his dedication to helping the poor: distributing 400 sleeping bags to the homeless around Vatican City on his 78th birthday; arranging pilgrimage opportunities for the poor to see the Shroud of Turin; and even inviting 150 homeless men and women to a private viewing of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel before serving them a sit-down meal.

Care for the poor will also be a theme of the Pope’s upcoming visit to the United States, when he is scheduled to meet with the homeless at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. [Sources: Religion News Service, NBC News, Crux Magazine]





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