(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has commissioned three showers to be built for use by the homeless in the area under St. Peter’s colonnades. The showers will be installed in an existing lavatory block used by pilgrims and tourists and the building works are set to begin on November 17th. The initiative was inspired by the experience of the Pope’s almoner (almsgiver) Archbishop Konrad Krajewski and received the immediate blessing of the Pope.
Archbishop Krajewski recently meet a 50 year old homeless man from Sardinia named Franco on the streets of Rome and offered to buy him dinner because it was his birthday. The man declined his invitation explaining that he couldn’t go to the restaurant with him because he stank. Not deterred, Archbishop Krajewski took the homeless man out for a meal anyway at a Chinese restaurant. During dinner the man explained to the archbishop that homeless people in Rome could always find some food but what they really lacked was a place to wash.
In addition to the 3 showers that will be built by St. Peter’s Square, Archbishop Krajewski has already asked ten parishes in Rome to build showers for use by the homeless, with money donated by the Pope’s charity.
The archbishop says the aim of this project is to restore dignity to Rome’s homeless people. According to the Catholic charity Sant’Egidio there are an estimated 8,000 people living rough on the streets of the Italian capital.
Listen to this report by Susy Hodges:
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