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Pope Francis Meets With Homeless in the Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo and finished in 1512. COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo and finished in 1512.

COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Pope Francis visited 150 members of Rome’s homeless population in the Sistine Chapel last Thursday during a dinner and private tour of the Vatican organized by Papal Almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who directs the office of papal charities.

After touring the Vatican City State, the apartment of Pius V, and several galleries in the Vatican Museums, but before dining in the museum restaurant, the Pope spent “at least” 20 minutes with the homeless guests in the chapel famous for its Michelangelo-painted ceiling, according to the Vatican Press Office via an article in the Catholic News Agency. He greeted each with a handshake.

Pope Francis thanked the archbishop for arranging the tour, and told the group, “This is everyone’s house, and your house. The doors are always open for all.”

The guided museum tour included headphones, and custodians were available to help guests carry their personal belongings, a detail for which the article helpfully contextualizes: “many homeless individuals carry […] at all times.”

The event is only the latest of many charitable initiatives carried out by Archbishop Krajewski on the pope’s behalf. In the past two years, the archbishop has overseen the remodeling of public bathrooms in St. Peter’s Square, funded a free haircut service for the homeless, and organized the distributed sleeping bags, umbrellas, and pocket-sized Gospels, in addition to routine efforts to feed the poor.

The Pope reportedly requested of the group, “Pray for me. I’m in need of prayers by people like you,” before asking God to protect his guests on “the path of life.”

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