Putting their money where their mouth is….

docceVatcanoHurrah for Pope Francis’ Vatican which has now set up a free daily shower service (Sundays excluded) for Rome’s homeless people and this right behind the gloriously columned arcades build by Renaissance architect and sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

And that’s not all. Starting on February 16, and on every following Monday, volunteers working for the postolic Charity Service headed by Mons. Konrad Krajewski will see to it that barbers be on hand to cut hair and beards for free.

Obviously, the Roman Catholic Church has long been active in providing food and services for the poor, through its parishes or other affiliate. But this is the first time that the Vatican itself has constructed an structure for the homeless on it’s own territory. And it comes just at the right time. Although there are fewer homeless people here than in many other Western countries, the number of the very poor is growing. Just the other day, the Catholic labor union, ACLI, came out with new statistics regarding poverty in Rome saying 4% of the population (around 115,000 people, now live below the poverty line while 7% have only one serious meal a day. Where necessary, the homeless who show up for showers will be given a kit with a change of underwear, a towel, soap, toothpaste, deodorant and, if they are men, shaving accessories.

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