11 June 2015
Hannah Roberts in Rome
Pope Francis to open hostel for homeless people near St Peter's
Pope Francis is to open a hostel for the homeless, in his latest initiative to help those sleeping rough on Rome’s streets.
The Pope, who has made concern for the poor a pillar of his papacy, is to open a dormitory for 30 people near St Peter’s. The gesture follows the opening of a barber and showers for the homeless under the colonnades of the square.
The hostel, which will open after the summer, is just outside the walls of the Vatican, in Via Penitenzieri, in a building formerly used by an agency for humanitarian travel.
The plans for the dormitory, which will only be open at night and will be operated by volunteers, were confirmed by Mgr Konrad Krajewski, the Pope’s official almsgiver.
Francis appointed the Polish priest as his almoner because Mgr Krajewski regularly used to distribute food to the poor and needy on the streets in the area around the Vatican.
Rumours that Francis sneaked out of the Vatican, dressed as a priest, to distribute charity to those living on the streets, circulated in Rome in 2013, after Mgr Krajewski dropped a strong hint during a TV interview.
The idea comes 27 years after St Pope John Paul II opened a dormitory for homeless women.
The Polish pope asked Mother Teresa of Calcutta to help him after seeing homeless people sleeping under the arcade at the entrance to St Peter’s Square on a snowy night.
Francis, who is also the bishop of Rome, has made a series of gestures to the city’s homeless since he took office two years ago.
Above: Homeless woman sits with her belongings outside Vatican. Photo: CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters
Manage my subcription hereManage