As summer temperatures soar in Rome, a trip to the beach and pizza dinner may sound like an ideal way to spend an afternoon. And Pope Francis is making it happen for some of the city’s homeless residents.
Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who is in charge of papal charities, told Vatican Insider that a Vatican van takes about 10 people each day to go swimming on the Italian coast, 30 kilometers from Rome. About 100 people have participated so far.
The archbishop drives the van, while passengers sing and listen to the radio. At the beach, each guest is offered a swimsuit and towel.
Afterwards, they enjoy a meal at a local pizzeria, courtesy of Pope Francis.
“We certainly are not saving the world with some of these initiatives, we are not solving the problems of the homeless in Rome, but at least we are restoring to them a little dignity,” Archbishop Krajewski told Vatican Insider.
“For these, our brothers in need who are used to living in insecurity, these are moments that remain in their memory, they have the chance to feel like everyone else.”
Other initiatives carried out by Archbishop Krajewski on behalf of the Pope include a dormitory, barber services and showers for those in need. Last year, the Pope invited a group of homeless people in Rome to the Sistine Chapel. Earlier this year, he invited 2,000 homeless people and migrants to the circus. Pope Francis also sent an electronic scooter to an elderly couple with disabilities, who had difficulty getting around. He has given Christmas gifts to poor migrants and umbrellas to the homeless.