February 6, 2015 / 3:03 PM / 4 years ago

Pope gives homeless in rainy Rome lost-and-found umbrellas

Pope Francis smiles as he talks to a camera linked with Argentina as he leads a meeting for the 4th World Congress of Educational Scholas Occurrentes in the Synod hall at the Vatican February 5, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis has ordered that umbrellas forgotten by tourists be distributed to the homeless of Rome to get them through a spate of unusually rainy weather, Ansa news agency said on its website on Friday.

The Vatican said in a statement that work had been finished on new facilities in St. Peter’s Square where homeless will be offered showers, toiletries, shaves and haircuts. The facilities are due to open soon..

Francis, who was known as the “slum bishop” in his native Buenos Aires because of his frequent visits to shanty towns, has made concern for the poor a major plank of his papacy.

The head of the pope’s charity office, Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, told Ansa 300 umbrellas left behind by tourists at Vatican museums had been distributed in recent days.

Krajewski came up with the idea of building showers in St. Peter’s Square after a homeless person told him that while it was relatively easy to find places to eat at Rome charities, it was difficult to find places to wash.

Barbers and hairdressers will donate their services on Mondays, the day their shops are traditionally closed in Italy. The showers will be open every day except Wednesday, when the square is crowded with people for the pope’s general audience.

Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by Ralph Boulton

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