The “Palazzo Migliori” can accommodate 50 men and women, with the capacity to increase the number during periods of extremely cold weather, and the 2nd floor refectory provides dinner and breakfast for overnight guests.
19th Century Vatican Palace Converted to Homeless Shelter on Pope’s Orders
A magnificent 19th-century palace in prime position off St. Peter’s Square next to the Vatican has been converted into a homeless shelter on the orders of Pope Francis. Palazzo Migliori was recently vacated by its religious order occupants and the question arose of what to do with the four-storey building in the centre of Vatican City. Pope Francis ordered the building be converted into a homeless shelter, housing up to 50 men and women and feeding dozens more.
Palazzo Migliori was recently renovated to the highest standard before the Pope’s decision
Palazzo Migliori, which was constructed in the early 1800s, served as the headquarters of the all-female Calasanziane religious order, which used the building to care for young single mothers. After occupying the building for 70 years, the order relocated to new premises last year and the palace was renovated, leading to questions about how it would be used.
Sitting on prime real estate just off St. Peter’s Square, the building could have generated significant income for the Catholic Church as a luxury hotel, but Pope Francis had other intentions. On its news website Vatican News, the Vatican said Pope Francis personally directed his Almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski (his officer in charge of distributing services to the poor) to convert it into a homeless shelter.
The Pope’s first words when touring the facility were: “beauty heals”
The four-storey building will house around 50 men and women, although the 16-bedroom facility has capacity for more during cold winter temperatures, Cardinal Krajewski said. The lower levels will be used to provide social support to the occupants, including computing, reading, recreation, and psychological counselling. Volunteers can also use the building to prepare meals for homeless people who were sheltering elsewhere.
According to Cardinal Krajewski, the Vatican requested the construction company in charge of renovating the building employ homeless people during the overhaul. The company was so impressed by their work ethic that it hired them!
Andrea Riccardi, founder of Rome-based Catholic association Community of Sant’Egidio, which will run the shelter, said all people should be welcomed by the Vatican.
"The important thing is that here we are in front of the Vatican, within the heart of the Pope, the poor have a home in front of the Pope," he said. "We are on Vatican territory, it belongs to the Vatican, and we of Sant’Egidio are delighted to cooperate with the Almoner of the Vatican."
According to an article on the Sant’Egidio website, the Pope’s first words when touring the facility were: "beauty heals".
Pope Francis has implemented many practical measures to help the poor and homeless
This is not the first time Pope Francis has implemented practical measures to help the poor and homeless in Vatican City.
- Last year, Cardinal Krajewski — on the pontiff’s orders — broke a police barrier and shimmied down a Rome manhole in order to restore electricity for hundreds of homeless people living in an unused building.
- In 2015, the Pope ordered that a homeless man who was well-known to many priests be buried inside the Vatican, within a cemetery normally reserved for senior clerics.
- Earlier that year, showers for the homeless were installed in public toilets just yards from St Peter’s square at the pontiff’s request. It aligns with Pope Francis’ stated intention for "a poor church for the poor" upon his election in 2013.
Homelessness: what can you do?
One of the topics we feel strongly about at BrightVibes is homelessness, because it’s a social issue affecting almost all societies almost everywhere, so we regularly publish articles about initiatives and ideas from around the world to help alleviate this desperate situation. They are all tagged “homelessness”. Click to see a selection of them, from which we hope you can draw inspiration to start your own initiative where you live. What may seem like a small gesture on your part can totally have a positive effect on someone’s day and even alter the course of their future. Click for inspiration.