Monday 19 February 2018

Pope Francis donates 300 umbrellas to Rome's homeless

Pope Francis
Pope Francis
Workers stand near the main entrance of the public restrooms just off St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Friday, Feb. 6, 2015 (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Workers stand near the main entrance of the public restrooms just off St. Peter's Square at the Vatican

Press Association

Pope Francis has ordered umbrellas forgotten by tourists to be given to the homeless of Rome.

Pope Francis has donated hundreds of umbrellas, which were in the Sistine Chapel's lost property office, to homeless people throughout the city.

The Vatican said that the decision was made as part of its new policy to increase its involvement with the poor.

Today, it announced that it had finished renovations on public rest rooms just off St Peter's Square where homeless will be offered showers, toiletries, shaves and haircuts. The facilities are due to open soon.

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.

Francis, who was known as the "slum bishop" in his native Buenos Aires because of his frequent visits to shanty towns, has made concern for the poor a major plank of his papacy.

The head of the pope's charity office, Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, came up with the idea of building showers in St. Peter's Square after a homeless person told him that while it was relatively easy to find places to eat at Rome charities, it was difficult to find places to wash.

Barbers and hairdressers will donate their services on Mondays, the day their shops are traditionally closed in Italy.

The showers will be open every day except Wednesday, when the square is crowded with people for the pope's general audience.

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