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Pope Francis offers free gelato for homeless on St George’s Day

An ice cream named after Pope Francis in Cassano all’Ionio, southern Italy (CNS)

Pope Francis has asked the papal almoner to give free ice cream to Rome’s homeless on St George’s day. In celebration of his name day, the Pontiff asked his charities’ office to distribute free gelato to the 3,000 people who use the city’s homeless shelter and soup kitchens.

The pontiff has frequently reached out to the city’s homeless population including opening the doors of the Missionaries of Charity shelter during a memorably cold spell in January 2017. Later that year, he opened the ‘Pope Francis Laundry’ providing free laundering facilities. The almonry, headed by Archbishop Konrad Krajewski acts as the Holy See’s charities office. It is in charge of exercising personal charity on behalf of the Pope.

The Pontiff has emphasised care for the poor and marginalised as a key theme of his papacy, saying that “we should be worried when our consciences are anaesthetised and we longer see the brother or sister suffering at our side”. He has previously advised Catholics to give money to the homeless and not worry about how it is spent. Archbishop Krajewski’s office frequently distributes sleeping bags to the homeless, manages several shelters and invited several homeless people to have breakfast with Pope Francis on the occasion of his 80th birthday.