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César, “God’s tramp,” is buried in the Vatican


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I.Media for Aleteia - published on 01/29/18

After finding the Church, César dedicated his life to Jesus and serving others.

A homeless man was buried January 11 in the Teutonic Cemetery in Vatican City. Since his conversion at the age of 47, he had lived his life as “God’s tramp.” 

He was called César Willy De Vroe and had been homeless, living in the Eternal City. He owned nothing: neither riches, nor friends. He’d lost everything, a long time ago, including his family and his health. However, as the German Catholic News Agency reported, his body now rests in one of the most prized cemeteries in Rome: the Teutonic Cemetery, in the heart of the Vatican.

This burial site next to St. Peter’s Basilica, with the oldest epitaph dating back to the 1500s, had been taken in hand by the Germans. As a result, Pope Pius XI definitively consecrated the cemetery to the German community in 1876 .

Born to a prostitute in Brussels, César spent most of his life looking for refuge. He had lived on the streets for more than 30 years. At 47, after meeting the Lord, he finally found what he’d been seeking, and asked to be baptized. Since then he called himself “God’s tramp” and continued to lead a generous life for Christ.

“His life is very similar to that of the biblical figure, Job,” stated Monsignor Dirk Smet, the Belgian rector of the Collegio Teutonico, during his eulogy. Like him, he had lost everything he’d possessed, but he had “found his path towards the Church.”

In fact César was known for his great generosity. Even in the most difficult of conditions, while he lacked virtually everything, he didn’t hesitate to give the small amount he owned to those in need. “Even if people don’t believe me, every time I give something, I receive exactly the same thing, even twice over, in the same day,” he claimed one day.

During his funeral, a few days after the Epiphany, Mgr. Smet attested that “César was not so different than the three Magi.” Like them, he was a ”wanderer of God,” looking for “the happiness and fullness of life.”

His burial comes nearly two years after another homeless man, Willy Herteller, was interred in the same cemetery, in line with Pope Francis’ desire for a “poor church, for the poor.”


This article first appeared in Aleteia’s French edition.

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