Cold emergency: the commitment of the Apostolic Charity

The Papal office of charity did not allow itself to be caught unprepared by the extraordinary cold wave that hit the city of Rome in the early days of 2019.

The Apostolic Charity has strengthened its commitment to the poor and homeless, providing those in need with sleeping bags suitable for low temperatures and thus alleviating the suffering of those who sleep on the street.

At the dormitory, “Gift of Mercy” in via dei Penitenzieri, the Apostolic Charity has made more beds available for those who need shelter from the cold. The structure is managed by three missionaries of Charity, from the order of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and by two volunteers who have lived the experience of the road. Here those who knock can stay a month but then have to wait another three months before being able to return. It is a way to entice guests to find a new location, to rethink of themselves and take their lives back in their hands. They are also guaranteed a supper.

Also in this winter, as happened in previous years, the doors of the rectory of San Calisto were reopened, in an extra-territorial Vatican area, annexed to the parish of Santa Maria in Trastevere and entrusted to the community of Sant’Egidio. There are about thirty beds available. Supper is also served to guests in the nearby canteen in via Dandolo.

Always in Trastevere, inside the “People of Peace” centre, is the “Pope's laundry”. There are six washing machines and six dryers with as many irons available. Then there is the distribution of hot meals, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, both in the kitchen set up in the premises of the church of Santa Maria Immacolata at Esquilino, which comes under Cardinal almsman Konrad Krajewski, and in the major railway stations of the city.

Thanks to the synergy with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) and with a veterinary clinic in Ostia Lido, the Papal Almsgiving has also thought about the homeless dogs. A program of free visits has been prepared for them, at the town hall on the Roman coast every third Sunday of the month, from 10 to 12.30.


Pope gives new clinic to poor and pilgrims for Christmas

Pope Francis has gifted a new medical clinic as a Christmas gift for the homeless and pilgrims set up just next to the colonnade of St. Peter's Square in the Vatican.

Called “Ambulatorio-Madre di Misericordia”, or Mother of Mercy Clinic, the clinic replaces the San Martino centre that has been providing first aid to the homeless since February 2016, with a shower and barber service added more recently.  

In a statement, the Office of Papal Charities headed by the Pope’s Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski said that the initiative was planned and executed by the Governorate of Vatican City State in coordination with the Department of Health and Hygiene of the Vatican. 

Set up in a small space formerly belonging to the Vatican Post Office, the Ambulatorio-Madre di Misericordia has 3 rooms for medical examinations, an office, 2 bathrooms and a waiting room

The rooms are furnished with new equipment and machinery for full medical examinations and some tests for patients.

The clinic will be open thrice a week – Monday, Thursday and Saturday.   A podiatrist (foot and ankle specialist) will be available on Monday mornings.  The clinic will also provide first aid to pilgrims during Vatican audiences or events in St. Peter's Square and the Basilica. 

The entire service is being provided by volunteer doctors, specialists and healthcare personnel of the Vatican, the Tor Vergata University of Rome, the Italian “Associazione Medicina Solidale” (Association of Solidarity Medicine) and the Italian Podiatrists Association.

Ambulatorio-Madre di Misericordia will also provide internships for the students and postgraduates of the Faculty of Medicine of Tor Vergata University. 

On the occasion of the Catholic Church’s World Day of the Poor, Nov. 18 2018, a makeshift mobile medical centre was set up in St. Peter’s Square, allowing the poor and needy to come for free checkups and evaluations from specialists. Pope Francis made a surprise visit to the clinic, as he has done on similar occasions in the past, taking time to speak to both patients and volunteer staff there.

Another Christmas gesture of Pope Francis has been a lunch for the poor and homeless of Rome’s seaside town of Ostia on December 18 2018 offered by Italy’s finance police, Guardia di Finanza, at Castelporziano near Ostia.