Pope Francis has given the go-ahead for a barber’s salon for the homeless to be installed under the colonnades of St Peter’s Square.
From later this month volunteers will shave and trim those in need on Mondays, the traditional barbers’ day off.
Francis, who has often called for “a poor Church for the poor”, had already approved plans for showers for to be installed in the Vatican and at other parishes around Rome.
All the necessary equipment including razors, hairbrushes, mirrors and an authentic barber’s chair has been donated.
The plans came about after Francis’ official alms-giver reported that a homeless man living in Vatican turned down a invitation to have dinner with him in a restaurant because he was embarrassed of his smell.
The Pope’s almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, invited Franco, originally from Sardinia, to dinner in October after meeting him on the street and learning that it was his 50th birthday when he explained that you can always find some food in Rome but what was missing was a place to wash.
Archbishop Krajewski said: “The first thing that we want to do is give dignity to people. A person who does not have the opportunity to wash suffers social rejection. A homeless person cannot go into a bar or a restaurant as they will not be served.
Having a shower and being able to wash your underwear is not enough. One must also be able to tidy your hair and beard to prevent illness.”
This ‘Tablet’ article gives a refreshing insight into Pope Francis’ leaning towards the poor – in the provision of toilet facilities, with free showers and haircuts for the indigent in the shadow of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
This is no gimmick, but rather a much-needed facility for the poor in the Holy City, who have no other means of keeping themselves respectably clean. I’m sure his predecessor, the Blessed Francis of Assisi, would fully approve of his name-sake’s initiative.
I guess this is what Jesus meant when he said “Blessed are you poor” – it depended on having someone putting themselves out to make them blessed – that’s us – you and me!