Pope Francis opens Vatican shelters for 24 hours to protect homeless from the cold
The cold wave that is sweeping through Europe makes for amusing photos like this frozen fountain in St. Peter's Square in Rome.
At night temperatures, have been dropping well below freezing and have already claimed the lives of eight people in Italy. The homeless are the most vulnerable and that is why the pope has decided that the shelters that welcome them near the square remain open 24 hours a day. The Vatican has also distributed gloves and sleeping bags that withstand extreme temperatures to homeless in the area.
There are many homeless people around St. Peter's and the pope is concerned about their situation. He remembered them last week in the Angelus prayer at the beginning of the cold wave.
"In these very cold days I think and I invite you to think of all the people who live in the street."
Although Rome is not the city that has suffered the lowest temperatures, it is one of the Italian cities with the most homeless people. The Vatican is where many come to beg and volunteers commonly offer food and blankets to those in need.
Even the new McDonald's near St. Peter's Basilica will now distribute food for the needy every Monday at 1:00 p.m. It had had a controversial opening because the property belongs to the Vatican and, nearby restaurants are afraid of losing clients.