The Vatican Palace could have been used as another means of making money through tourism, however, the Pope had a vision that would create something money can’t buy: a place where the city’s most vulnerable can seek shelter, comfort, and fellowship.
A palace for the homeless
For the last 70 years, the palace was used by a group of religious women called the Calasanziane order to provide care for single mothers in Rome. They have recently moved their practice to a different location, leaving the space vacant. (1)
The Palazzo Migliori is just off of St. Peter’s Square where Pope Francis delivers sermons to thousands of visitors and locals each day. Already tourists spend hundreds of dollars a night to stay in hotels nearby – if they renovated the palace into a hotel, they could charge a lot of money for people to stay there. This could potentially bring thousands of dollars into the Vatican.
Pope Francis, however, envisioned the palace being a place of refuge not to tourists, but instead to the people living in his city who need help the most. (1)
The palace has 16 bedrooms and can accommodate around 50 people at a time. It is largely run by volunteers, who cook hot meals every day for the residents. It truly is a place of peace for the disadvantaged. (1)
One of the residents is a 53-year-old gentleman named Mario Brezza. After having a leg amputated due to an unfortunate circulatory disease, he now lives on a mere $300 monthly disability allowance. The palace has provided him with a place that he feels comfortable and more human. He now has a community and feels like he has been given some dignity and independence back. (1)
“This place feels more like home. I have my own bed, room, and bathroom. It’s so different from the dormitories I have tried until now, where sometimes you feel like an animal in a crowded stable.” he said in an interview with NBC. (1)
A true gift from the heart
Pope Francis and the Vatican are not making any money off of the shelter. It truly is something that he created out of the goodness of his heart and his desire to help people.
How you can help the homeless in your city
Not a single city in the world is untouched by homelessness and poverty. While you are not able to provide a palace for the disadvantaged in your city to live in, there are ways you can help:
- Acknowledge their existence
This may seem odd, but if you have nothing to give or are unable to donate, at the very least you can help them feel like a human being. Most homeless people feel invisible or forgotten. People look at them with fear or disdain. They rarely hear their own name spoken out loud. Smiling, saying good morning, or even striking up a short conversation can go a long way.
- Educate yourself
There is a common misconception that all homeless people are lazy and their situation is completely their own fault. It is important to educate yourself on homelessness and addictions and work towards decreasing the stigma surrounding it. The more we know and understand, the more we can help.
Whether it’s giving someone your spare change, buying an extra slice of pizza to the guy sitting outside the store, donating gently used clothing to a shelter, or volunteering your time at a soup kitchen – all of it helps. There really isn’t a donation that is too small.
Often shelters or community centers offer classes on nutrition, language, typing, carpentry, reading – you name it, they do it. If you have a skill that you can share, contact your local shelter and offer to teach a class. Providing people with knowledge and skills will make them more viable in the job market. Helping them gain meaningful employment will effectively end the cycle of poverty.
The Bottom Line
What Pope Francis has done in Rome is an example of how treating all people with dignity and respect goes a long way. It proves that by providing some of the basic necessities of life can help pull people out of bad situations. It also shows how it is possible for love to win over making a buck.
While we may not all have the same resources as the Vatican, we can make a difference in our own communities.
A Special Message From Our Founders
Over the past few years of working with health experts all over the world, there’s one major insight we’ve learned.
Most health problems can often be resolved with a good diet, exercise and a few powerful superfoods. In fact, we’ve gone through hundreds of scientific papers and ‘superfood’ claims and only selected the top 5% that are:
- Backed by scientific research
- Simple to use
We then put this valuable information into the Superfood as Medicine Guide: a 100+ page guide on the 7 most powerful superfoods available, including:
- Exact dosages for every health ailment
- DIY recipes to create your own products
- Simple recipes