(Vatican Radio) Just 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.
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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, which previously hosted a travel agency, belongs to the Jesuit community.
Krajewsky says it’s the 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.
Just round the corner from the Vatican, in Via dei Penitenzieri, 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 locals and Holy Mass, celebrated by Bishop Krajewski and attended by the dorm’s first guests and by volunteers.
Krajewski explains that it can host up to 34 men a night that there are specific regulations in place to make sure the dormitory runs smoothly.
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 day between 6 and 7pm; then lights-out, rest and wake-up at 6.15am in time for personal hygiene, bed-making and tidying up. The dorm shuts at 8am for cleaning.
Also run by the Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity and financed by the Papal Office of Charities, the “Gift of Mary” dormitory which has been offering shelter to homeless women since 1988.
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.