Francis gave the papal blessing Friday to a new 4-story “palace for the poor” opening right beside the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square. But one of the coolest parts of this story is behind the scenes: The construction company that renovated the “palace” employed a group of homeless people, at the Vatican’s urging. The company was so impressed by their work ethic that it hired them.
The palace still carries the name of the Roman family that built it in the 1800s: Palazzo Migliori – “Palace of the Best.”
Acquired by the Vatican in the 1930s, the building recently became empty when a congregation of religious sisters left.
Pope Francis personally directed his Almoner, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, to turn it into a refuge where the homeless and poor of Rome can sleep, eat, and learn.
The charitable operation is staffed and run by the Catholic lay Sant’Egidio Community.
In a communique, Cardinal Krajewski described how the palace is to be used.
The upper two floors are dormitories where around 50 men and women can sleep, though it is able host more when Roman temperatures plummet and the need is greater.
Those guests are offered breakfast and supper in a 2nd-floor refectory.
Volunteers will also be able to use the kitchen to prepare hot meals to be distributed in the evenings to the homeless who find shelter at one of Rome’s train stations.
During the day, the bottom two floors provide space for volunteers to teach computer classes. There is also space for reading, recreation, and psychological counseling.