Jesuits donate Vatican house for homeless

Homeless on the streets of Rome
Homeless on the streets of Rome

As winter begins to set in, Pope Francis and his Jesuit brothers have made sure there are extra beds in town for those who find themselves facing life out on the streets during the cold winter nights.

The new Rome dormitory for the homeless bears the name ‘Gift of Mercy’ because, as the Apostolic Almoner, Bishop Konrad Krajewski explains, “it is a gift from the Society of Jesus and mercy is love’s second name”.

The building previously hosted a travel agency and belongs to the Jesuit community and Bishop Krajewski says that this is the Jesuit community’s way of responding to Pope Francis’ appeal to religious institutions to offer buildings to be placed in the service of the needy and those in difficulty.

Situated in Via dei Penitenzieri and very close to the Vatican, the dormitory was restructured and furnished by the Papal Office of Charities through offerings collected by the faithful  and  is run by nuns from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.       

Last week’s inauguration took place with the blessing of the local people and Mass was  celebrated by Bishop Krajewski and attended by the home’s first guests and by volunteers.

Bishop Krajewski explains that the dormitory can host up to 34 men a night that there are specific regulations in place to make sure that the facility runs smoothly
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First of all the nuns interview, admit and register those seeking shelter who can stay for a maximum of 30 days; guests can arrive each evening  between 6.00pm and 7.00pm and receive a hot meal; then lights-out, sleep and wake up at 6.15am in time for personal hygiene, bed-making and tidying up. The dormitory shuts for the day at 8.00am for cleaning.

Homeless women have been offered shelter since 1988 in the ‘Gift of Mary’ dormitory run by the Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity and financed by the Papal Office of Charities.

With the addition of the ‘Gift of Mercy’, the Vatican is now in a position to offer a bed to a total of 84 people without a fixed abode.