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
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
"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.