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Vatican opens St Peter's Square facilities for homeless people

13 February 2015


All mod cons: the new facilities in the re­novated men's bathroom below the right wing of Bernini's Colonnade at St Peter's, Rome, part of new initiatives by the Vatican to help the homeless 

All mod cons: the new facilities in the re­novated men's bathroom below the right wing of Bernini's Colonnade at St Peter's, Rome, part of new initi...

ROME could soon become one of the best places in the world to be homeless, thanks to new initiatives by the Vatican to help the poor.

They include the distribution of more than 300 umbrellas that have been left behind by tourists, as well as the installation of three showers below Ber­nini's Colonnade, which encom­passes St Peter's Square.

Homeless pilgrims will also be offered free haircuts and shaves in a small bar­ber­shop in the heart of the Vatican City.

The showers will be available for use every day except on Wednesday during the general audience of Pope Francis, and during liturgical celeb­rations in the square and in St Peter's Basilica.

Haircuts will be offered every Mon­­­­day by voluntary barbers taking turns, and by final-year students from a hairdressing school in Rome. 

Any homeless pilgrims who wish to use one of the showers will receive a complete change of underwear, and a kit including a towel, soap, a toothbrush and deo­dor­ant.

Most of this will be offered free of charge by com­panies and individ­uals who have of­­fer­­ed to share their resources with the needy, the Vati­can said in a state­­­­­ment last week.

The remainder will be bought as necessary by the Pope's Almoner, using proceeds from the distribu­tion of parchments for Papal Blessings.

Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who distributes charity on behalf of Pope Francis, told the Italian news agency ANSA last month that the purpose of providing the showers and free haircuts was to help to restore dignity to the homeless.

"When a person has no means of washing themselves, they are re­­jected by society, and we all know a homeless person cannot enter a public establishment such as a bar or a restaurant and ask to use the bathroom because they are told to go away," he said.

The initiative to distribute lost umbrellas, most of which were left in Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St Peter's Basilica, was added amid a recent spell of un­­usually rainy weather throughout central Italy.

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