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]