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Friday, February 6, 2015

Showers and barber under Bernini's Colonnade for “homeless pilgrims”

Vatican City, 6 February 2015 (VIS) – In recent days work has been concluded for the installation of new showers below Bernini’s Colonnade, thus completing an extensive project to provide this service for the poor of the city of Rome through the participating parishes, especially those where there already exist canteens for the poor or where there is a greater concentration of homeless people.

The project was planned, guided and implemented by the technicians and employees of the Governorate of Vatican City State: three showers and a small “barbershop” have been incorporated in the complete renovation of a section of the bathrooms present under the right wing of the Colonnade.

This has been achieved with great sobriety and dignity, but also using modern techniques: every washbasin is equipped with hot water, a soap dispenser and a hot air jet for drying hands, all photocell-activated; instead of tiles, a special resin has been used to coat the walls, which is easy to wash and ensures optimum hygiene.

The showers will be available for use every day, except on Wednesday during the general audience and during celebrations in St. Peter’s Square and in the Basilica. On Monday, Thursday and Saturday the service and management of the showers is ensured by volunteers from UNITALSI – Rome Section. The barber will be available on Monday from 9 am to 3 pm. The service is provided by various voluntary barbers and final year students from a hairdressing school in Rome.

Our homeless pilgrims who wish to use the shower will receive a complete change of underwear and a kit including a towel, soap, toothpaste, a razor, shaving cream and deodorant, in accordance with their specific needs. The majority of the material will be offered free of charge by several companies and private individuals who, having heard of this project, have offered to share their own resources with the needy. The remainder of the material will be purchased as necessary by the Almoner of His Holiness using proceeds from the distribution of parchments for Papal Blessings.

On certain days of the week the poor will be received by volunteers, starting with the Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Albertine Sisters who assist the Swiss Guard, the Vincentian Sisters and many other kind-hearted volunteers in Rome who have offered their time and collaboration.

The Centro Televisivo Vaticano and the Photographic Service of L’Osservatore Romano will produce video footage and photographs of the new services and will make them available, from their offices, upon request.

The Almoner wishes to offer heartfelt thanks to all the Parishes that have participated in this project and, in particular, all those who have contributed to producing the showers below the Colonnade and who will endeavour in various ways to their use to assist the poor.

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