Pope Francis's latest act of kindness: Installing showers for the homeless

Three showers will be installed near Bernini's Colonnade in St. Peter's Square to cater to homeless men and women, says the pope's chief alms-giver.

Alessandra Tarantino/AP
Pope Francis talks with Monsignor Georg Gaenswein as he leaves after his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 29.

Homeless people around the Vatican are getting more than just handouts from charitable passers-by. They're getting a shower.

The pope's chief alms-giver, Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, says three showers will be installed in the public restrooms off Bernini's Colonnade in St. Peter's Square to cater to homeless men and women.

Krajewski, whose small acts of charity in Francis' name are well known, told La Stampa's Vatican Insider website that he came up with the idea after meeting a homeless man named Franco while coming home from confession one day.

Krajewski said he offered to take Franco to dinner after learning it was his 50th birthday, but he declined because of his stench.

"I brought him with me anyway. We had Chinese," Krajewski was quoted as saying. "While we were at the table, he told me that you can always find something to eat in Rome. But what is missing are places to wash yourself."

Krajewski told reporters last year that he envisages his work as the papal "almoner" as being a hands-on extension of Pope Francis, who as cardinal used to visit the slums of Buenos Aires and minister to the homeless. Since Francis can no longer do so in person, he tasked Krajewski with carrying out "emergency" acts of charity in his name.

Krajewski's coffers are funded by the sales of papal parchments, hand-made certificates with a photo of the pope that the faithful can buy for a wedding, baptism, priestly ordination or other occasion, with the name of the recipient and an apostolic blessing written in calligraphy.

Recently his office has been the target of criticism from shopkeepers and artisans around the Vatican who make the parchments. They have been told that starting Jan. 1, the Vatican is reserving the business for itself, to better fund Francis' charitable efforts.

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