Poor and homeless men and women will now be able to turn to the Vatican for medical treatment, the latest initiative to offer care for those persons living on the streets of Rome.
Located near the colonnade, the new “clinic for the poor” opened Monday, offering free services to those unable to afford basic medical care.
“We are equipped to help all those who come knocking on our door. It is Pope Francis who wants this and those of us who are close to him in this venture are honoured and highly motivated to make this possible,” Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, said Feb. 29, according to Vatican Radio.
“We are grateful to Pope Francis for having wanted, once again, to give a concrete sign of mercy in St. Peter's Square for persons without a fixed residence or who are in difficulty,” said Lucia Ercoli, director of the Supportive Medicine Association.
“Our doctors, along with those of FAS and the Policlinico (hospital) Tor Vergata, have accepted with great passion this new challenge that ideally combines the work done in recent years in the suburbs with the heart of Christianity. "
He added: “There still much work to be done especially in the suburbs of our city, but I think this new clinic in St Peter’s is a sign of great hope."
This is not the first initiative on Vatican grounds to be directed at offering concrete aid. Since early 2015, the Vatican has provided persons in need access to showers, and even a barbershop run by volunteers. Many barbers have volunteered with enthusiasm, including two barbers from the national Italian organization that transports the sick to Lourdes, and other international shrines.
“It seemed right to also provide free medical visits,” Archbishop Krajewski added, saying it is “an indispensable service to the health of the poor who live among us.”
And in October 2015, Pope Francis and his fellow Jesuits converted an old travel agency into a dormitory for the homeless.
Residents in the new “Gift of Mercy” house are welcome to stay for up to 30 consecutive days, and a schedule is set by the Missionary of Charity sisters who help keep things running smoothly.