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Trevi Fountain “wishing coins” answer prayers of the homeless

TREVI FOUNTAIN
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Tourists who throw coins will become "protagonists for change" for the city's poor.

There is a long-standing tradition that when visiting the Trevi Fountain in Rome, tourists will turn around and make a wish before tossing a coin over their shoulder into the water. Now, Rome’s city council has decided that these coins, $1.7 million worth in 2016, will be going toward food and shelter for the city’s poor.

An agreement was reached between the city council and Caritas Rome, a Catholic relief organization that was previously the beneficiary of these coins. While Caritas Rome has been doing good work with this income for the last 20 years, the city’s recent economic difficulties have led the council to find funds where they can for public service projects.

The decision was delayed until the end of 2018, at which point the city will take control over the process of gathering coins from the fountain using high-powered vacuums.

The decision was welcomed by the director of Caritas Rome, Msgr. Enrico Feroci, who said it, “concretely expresses the solidarity of the whole city of Rome toward those who suffer and are disadvantaged.”

The Boston Pilot reports:

By trusting Caritas Rome with the money collected from the Trevi Fountain, he added, the Rome city council has recognized that the Catholic charity has a special and unique history in the city in “reaching out and encountering the most diverse forms of poverty,” particularly in serving the homeless, the elderly, migrants and struggling families.

“Responsibility, transparency, a spirit of service and witness: These are the attitudes that have guided us in these years in which the city of Rome has entrusted the proceeds of the Trevi Fountain coins to Caritas,” Msgr. Feroci said.

While many tourists make a wish to return to the Eternal City one day, Msgr. Feroci said the funds they unknowingly contribute allow them to join the Catholic charity in becoming “protagonists of change” for the city’s poor.

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