Pope Francis surprised a group of homeless people yesterday when he joined them on a private tour of the Sistine Chapel.
The 150 men and women had been given a tour of the Vatican Museum and gardens and were in the chapel painted by Michelangelo when Pope Francis turned up.
He told them: “Welcome. This is everyone’s house, and your house. The doors are always open for all.”
Journalists were not allowed to attend, but the Vatican press office reported that the Holy Father greeted each homeless person individually, and then asked for their prayers being leaving. He said: “Pray for me. I’m in need of prayers by people like you.”
Pope Francis also thanked Polish Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almsgiver, for organising the visit. Archbishop Krajewski distributed tickets to the event himself.
One of the homeless people, described as Carla, described how a gas explosion killed her entire family, and since then she had lived on the streets. She was taken in by religious at a Franciscan convent outside Rome.
The homeless guests were later offered dinner in the Vatican Museums’ cafeteria.