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Rome Reports

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150 Homeless get exclusive tour of the Sistine Chapel

It was a day to remember. With the approval of Pope Francis, 150 homeless people were given an exclusive tour of the Vatican.. and all its priceless works of art.  Among them was Mauro. A 50-year-old Italian who has lived out on the street for roughly six years.  "We were taken to the Vatican Museum, to the Vatican Gardens and basically a complete Vatican tour.â?  The museums were closed off to the public to give the group an exclusive tour. But without a doubt the highlight was a visit to the Sistine Chapel...with a very special guest.  Pope Francis made a surprise visit and talked to the group for about 20 minutes. "The Pope walked in and when we saw him, applause broke out and there were even some tears.â?  MAURO  "It was beautiful, especially because I had never been there before. The fact that the Pope is welcoming us and those who are going through rough times, it's an honor.â?  The Pope also asked them for their prayers and after heading out, the group was treated to lunch in the Vatican.  The idea came from the Papal Almoner, Bishop Konrad Kraijewki. After getting the green light from the Pope, he even sent out invitations to the group.  "I can't really explain it. I feel like crying tears of joy.â?  The tour is one of several recent initiatives to help the homeless in the area. Among them was the recent installment of showers near the Vatican.  KLH CTV/MG J PR UP ATO