The archbishop who distributes charity on behalf of Pope Francis has announced that the public restrooms in St Peter's Square will include showers where the homeless can wash, reports the Catholic News Service.
The service will require volunteers and donations of soap, towels and clean underwear, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner said yesterday. "We have to be evangelical, but intelligent, too," he added.
Several people living on the streets of Rome or in tents say it is not difficult to find a parish or charity that will give them something to eat, but finding a place to wash is much more difficult. Barbara, a Polish woman who lives in a tent with her teenage son and a companion, said showers in the Vatican's public restrooms "would be good. We'd thank them if it works."
Her companion, who calls himself Stefano, said: "I'm a mason without work. I'll help them build it. No problem."
The news site Vatican Insider first reported the news that Archbishop Krajewski had asked the office governing Vatican City State to include showers in an already-approved project to remodel the public restrooms in St Peter's Square.
The remodelling work and installation of the showers is scheduled to begin this coming Monday. The Archbishop said the three shower stalls would be located in the public restrooms a few steps north of Bernini's Colonnade, just behind the Vatican post office.
The Archbishop told Vatican Insider that in early October he was talking to a homeless man near the Vatican and discovered it was the man's 50th birthday. He invited the man to a restaurant for dinner, but the man declined, saying a restaurant would not let him in because of his odour.
Sitting on the steps of the Vatican press office yesterday, Barbara and Stefano were discussing the plans with a small group of Polish friends - and expressing some doubts about it to reporters.
Photo: Pope Francis blesses a sculpture Jesus the Homeless at the Vatican last November.
Vatican to build showers to make life easier for the homeless (The Catholic Herald)