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Pope Francis surprises homeless during Vatican tour: “Welcome, this is your house”

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 03/26/15

From Huffington Post:

Visitors had to leave the Sistine Chapel earlier than usual on the afternoon of March 26 — before 4:00 p.m. — and not because of some exclusive VIP event. A group of around 150 homeless were granted a private visit before being offered supper inside the Vatican Museums’ cafeteria. They were separated into three groups, with a guide showing the masterpiece of Michelangelo as part of a tour of the Vatican’s museums and gardens. The session also included passing close by Santa Marta’s residence, where Pope Francis lives and works.

After the visit, Francis greeted the homeless: “Welcome, this is a house for all. Your house.” He then spent 20 minutes meeting his special guests, one by one.

Homeless people don’t appear as just words in a speech or a prayer for the “pope of the poor.” They have become part of the Vatican’s daily life. On March 22, 400 of them helped deliver pocket Gospels that Francis was offering to the crowd gathered on St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayer at noon. One hundred homeless people also did the same a month before, handing out another booklet for Lent.

Read more.

ABC News adds:

The Vatican says the pontiff spent 20 minutes with the visitors, meeting each one individually. He asked them to pray for him saying, “I need prayers from people like you.”

“It was a great surprise meeting him,” said Graziella, one of the homeless visitors, to the Italian news agency ANSA. “The pope was smiling a lot but above all I was struck by his humility. Who else would have done this? Nobody. I always go to church but I have never experienced such humanity and humility.”

The tour passed the Casa Santa Marta, where Pope Francis chose to live instead of the stately Papal apartment, and included a stop at a recently opened room in the museum that houses the pope’s historical carriages.

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