Pope's Charity Aide Organizes Private Sistine Chapel Tour For Homeless People

In this photo taken on Sept.19, 2013 provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Vatican Almoner, Archbishop Konr
In this photo taken on Sept.19, 2013 provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Vatican Almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski attends the ceremony for his episcopal ordination, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican. The existence of the Vatican Almoner dates back centuries: It is mentioned in a papal bull from the 13th-century Pope Innocent III, and Pope Gregory X, who ruled from 1271-1276, organized it into an official Holy See office for papal charity. Up until Krajewski came along, the almoner was typically an aging Vatican diplomat who was serving his final years before being allowed to retire at age 75. Francis changed all that, tapping the 50-year-old Pole to be a more vigorous, hands-on extension of himself. The almoner's duties are two-fold: carrying out acts of charity, and raising the money to fund them. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)

The Vatican is extending another welcoming hand to Rome's homeless population.

On Thursday, 150 homeless people will venture beyond the steps of St. Peter's Square for a tour of the Vatican Gardens, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano reports. The visit was organized by Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who heads the Office of Papal Charities and has become the pope's right-hand charity man since his appointment to the office in 2013.

The museums will close 90 minutes early to give the visitors time to themselves in the Sistine Chapel, according to Catholic News Service. The visitors will be divided into three groups, each with a guide who will explain the chapel's art and architecture.

The tour is one of several recent initiatives the Vatican has introduced to serve Rome's homeless population. In February, it opened a public restroom facility with showers and barber services, offering each visitor a kit that included a towel, clean underwear, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, a razor and shaving cream.

Krajewski has been the force behind these initiatives, receiving marching orders directly from Pope Francis who has said he wants a "poor church, for the poor."

"The Holy Father told me at the beginning: 'You can sell your desk. You don't need it. You need to get out of the Vatican. Don't wait for people to come ringing. You need to go out and look for the poor,'" Krajewski told The Associated Press in 2013.

By day, the 50-year-old Polish priest coordinates visits for homeless men and women and responds to letters asking for aid. By night, he is known as Don Corrado -- paying late-night visits to those living on the streets and distributing leftovers from the Swiss Guard's kitchen.

"We will never meet the immense needs," Krajewski told The Daily Beast, "but we can make a difference with even the most simple things most people take for granted, like showers and haircuts."



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