Pope Francis and his brother Jesuits in Rome have converted an old travel agency building into a new homeless shelter for men, just in time for the cold winter months.
The new dormitory is called “Gift of Mercy,” because mercy is “love’s second name,” Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the Apostolic Almoner, told Vatican Radio.
He added that the initiative is a response to Pope Francis’ call to the faithful to care for the poor and the homeless.
Earlier this year, Pope Francis established showers, bathrooms and a barber shop inside the Vatican to serve the homeless population.
The new shelter, just around the corner from the Vatican in Via dei Penitenzieri, is furnished by the Papal Office of Charities and donations, and is run by sisters from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.
With enough space to house 34 men, the shelter brings the Vatican’s total capacity for housing the homeless up to 84.
Besides the “Gift of Mercy” house, the Missionaries of Charity also run the “Gift of Mary” home in the Vatican, a homeless shelter for women established by Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa in the late 1980s.
Residents in the new “Gift of Mercy” house are welcome to stay for up to 30 consecutive days, and a schedule set by the sisters helps keep things running smoothly.
The sisters register each guest as they arrive between 6-7 p.m. Soon after, it’s lights out, with a wake-up call at 6:15 a.m. After time for bed-making and personal hygiene, the dorm closes at 8 a.m. to give the sisters a chance to clean before the next night.
The dorm was inaugurated last week in a private ceremony with a blessing and Mass celebrated by Archbishop Krajewski, with the dorm’s first guests and volunteers in attendance.
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