The homeless citizens who were lucky enough to perch themselves outside of the Sistine Chapel met with Pope Francis, who offered them prayer during the private tour of the breathtaking institution. Usually, those same citizens are only able to grasp a glimpse pf the exterior beauty. Yesterday, they were given a more generous view of things, in and around the Vatican Museum. The tour group consisted of 150 men and women from the surrounding streets.
The tour covered a good amount of the museum, from the gardens to the many exhibits on display, followed by a well-received dinner at the museum’s cafeteria. Afterwards, the group was ushered into the Sistine Chapel to pray. It was there that Pope Francis made his spontaneous appearance.
Pope Francis said, reportedly, that the chapel is for everyone, for you especially. The doors are not meant to be barriers, but gateways for any and all who wish to enter. He then went and shook the hands of each tour group member. Pope Francis was not the only one to pay special attention to the guests.
The officials of the Vatican mentioned that the pontiff on duty took the time to individually converse with each member of the group. The pontiff asked the homeless guests to say a prayer for him, that prayer from people in their situation was a necessity for him.
Graziella, one of the tour-goers told an Italian news agency how meeting The Pope impacted her. She included details about how surprising it was to be in his presence. She said that he could not stop smiling, how she was bowled over by his humble nature. She singled him out by stating that no one else would have done what he did, and that she has never experienced that kind of care, despite being a regular church attendant.
Another part of the tour took the group to Casa Santa Marta. This is where Pope Francis resides, instead of at the Papal Apartment. Afterwards, they went to an open room in the Vatican Museum that contains the historical carriages of The Pope.
The tour given to the homeless throughout St. Peter’s Square was another one of the Vatican’s attempts to do charitable acts for the homeless community. On Pope Francis’ birthday, in December, he made sure that sleeping bags were delivered to all the homeless in the square’s area. Last month, the Vatican erected showers and enlisted barbers to attend to the hygiene of the city’s homeless population.
In June, Pope Francis will have a lunch with the homeless in Turin while he visits, the Vatican announced recently. Pope Francis’ mission to the poor under his guidance is one of the main concerns during his papacy. In 2013, he said that one must not be scared to deliver Christ’s message to everyone, even to the ones who seem unreachable.
The Vatican has not only been charitable to the homeless of Rome, but have encouraged them to spread the gospel around St. Peter’s Square. They are to do so during the Pope’s prayers on noon, every Sunday.
Pope Francis’ tour and the dinner were both organized by the Office of Papal Charities. The organization consistently delivers hot meals to the homeless throughout Rome. During the tour, Pope Francis did not allow photographs to be taken of him meeting the homeless.
By Matthew Austin Bowers
Photo by Scott Sherill-Mix – Flickr License