By Nicole Pellicano
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Vatican opened the “Gift of Mercy,” a shelter for homeless men, just a few hundred yards away from St. Peter’s Square.
Housed in a Jesuit-owned building, the shelter was created by and is run with funds from the papal almoner, who has taken a variety of initiatives to assist the homeless people in the area surrounding the Vatican.
Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, Pope Francis’ almoner, inaugurated the shelter Oct. 7 by celebrating Mass for the first guests. The shelter offers 34 beds in an open-floor, partitioned dormitory, according to a statement from the Almoner’s Office Oct. 12.
The shelter is run by the Missionaries of Charity, who briefly interview the guests before they are checked in. Because of limited space, the guests may stay for a maximum of 30 days.
The guests agree to abide by a structured schedule with check-in each evening between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., followed by lights-out at a set time.
After the 6:15 a.m. wake-up call, guests are offered breakfast and have until 8 a.m. to tidy up their respective areas and use the washrooms. After the shelter closes for the day, guests can shower and visit the barber at a facility set up under the colonnade in St. Peter’s Square. The facility also was established by the papal almoner.
Various locations around the Vatican offer lunch and dinner, including the Vatican soup kitchen at the nearby “Gift of Mary” shelter for women. The shelter for women also is staffed by the Missionaries of Charity.