Vatican to open showers and barber shop for the homeless
Rome's homeless are about to get some TLC.
The Vatican is finishing renovations on public restrooms just off St Peter's Square which will include three showers and a barber shop for the homeless.
Each "homeless pilgrim", as Vatican Radio called them, will receive a kit including a towel, change of underwear, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, razor and shaving cream.
The showers will be open every day but Wednesday when the piazza is full for the Pope's general audience.
Haircuts will be available on Mondays. Rome's barber shops are closed on Mondays, so barbers volunteering on their day off and students from a local beauty school will be donating their time.
Francis's alms-giver, Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, said the project is necessary because the homeless are often shunned for their hygiene.
The bathrooms were made with hi-tech, easy-to-clean materials to ensure proper hygiene, the Vatican said in a statement.
The initiative is being funded by donations and sales of papal parchments by Monsignor Krajewski's office.
Francis has stepped up the role of the Vatican "elmosiniere" as part of his insistence that the church should look out for the poorest. In addition to small acts of charity, Monsignor Krajewski's office handed out 400 sleeping bags to the homeless over Christmas, distributed 1,600 phone cards to new migrants on the island of Lampedusa, and this week gave away 300 umbrellas that had been left behind at the Vatican Museums.