In his latest effort to ease the suffering of the poor, Pope Francis has opened a free launderette so the homeless can wash their clothes and blankets in the heart of Rome.
Six washing machines and six dryers have been donated by Whirlpool and Procter & Gamble have donated detergent for the pope’s laundromat which opened Monday in the city’s vibrant Trastevere quarter.
It’s the latest initiative from a pope who has made it a priority to provide the homeless with showers, housing, medical care and hair care since he was elected four years ago. The laundromat will be run by volunteers from the Catholic charity, Comunity of St Egidio.
“This is a free service offered to the poorest people, in particular to the homeless who can wash, dry and iron their own clothes and blankets,” said the pope’s chief almsgiver, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, in a statement.
The statement from the Vatican almsgiver’s office said the pope had wanted to do something a “concrete” following the Jubilee Year of Mercy last year and the initiative “gives concrete form to charity and works of mercy aimed at restoring dignity to so many people who are our brothers and sisters.”
The laundromat follows the pope’s controversial move to open showers for the homeless under the sweeping white colonnade of St Peter’s Basilica in 2015 and he has also provided them with free haircuts, meals and medical assistance on the streets of the Italian capital.
In the coming months showers, barbers and medical services will also be added to the new laundromat which will be run by volunteers.
The pope frequently preaches more should be done to help the poor but his move to open showers beneath the extravagant apostolic apartments where he refused to live after his election was seen as provocative.
To mark his 78th birthday the pope gave hundreds of sleeping bags to the homeless in Rome in 2014.