CNS photo/Paul Haring

Surprise! Pope Francis stops by Vatican’s new homeless shelter

By  Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service
  • October 16, 2015

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis has made a surprise visit to a new homeless shelter just outside Vatican City, the pontiff’s latest move to draw attention to the world’s poor.

The Pope made the short journey from the Vatican to the centre, close to Rome’s Tiber River, at around 7 p.m. on Oct. 15.

Francis’ visit was said to have delighted around 30 homeless men hosted at the dormitory, who spoke to the Pope, recounted their stories and asked to be blessed. The pontiff’s visit lasted around 20 minutes, Vatican Radio reported.

He was accompanied by his almoner (distributor of alms or charity), Archbishop Konrad Krajewski; the Jesuit superior general, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas; and three nuns who work at the residence.

The “Gift of Mercy” (“Dono di Misericordia”) homeless shelter was inaugurated earlier this month and can host 34 people each night. The building, a former travel agency, was converted by Jesuits as a response to Francis’ call for more to be done to help poor people.

There have been rumours that the Pope occasionally sneaks out of the Vatican to join those helping homeless people, although his staff has not confirmed such nighttime walks.

Francis has, however, made high-profile moves to help the homeless, such as building showers at the Vatican and providing haircuts and shaves.

A group of homeless people has also been invited to a private tour of the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel.

During his recent visit to the United States, Pope Francis visited a homeless shelter in Washington, where he said there was “no justification whatsoever” for a lack of housing.

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