Pope Francis plans to build showers for homeless in St Peter’s Square after man turns down dinner with bishop because of his smell

The homeless man was worried a restaurant would refuse him entry

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The Independent Online

Pope Francis has approved plans for showers to be installed for the homeless in St Peter’s Square after a man turned down dinner with a bishop over worries about his smell.

Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the almoner in charge of carrying out acts of charity in the Pope's name, told La Stampa's Vatican Insider website that he came up with the idea after meeting a homeless man named Franco while coming home from confession one day.

Krajewski said he offered to take Franco for dinner after learning it was his 50th birthday, but the man insisted he would not be allowed into a restaurant because of his smell. 

"I brought him with me anyway. We had Chinese," Krajewski was quoted as saying. "While we were at the table, he told me that you can always find something to eat in Rome. But what is missing is places to wash yourself."

"We have to be evangelical, but intelligent, too," he added. "It is not simple [to open a shower service.] It is easier to prepare sandwiches than to run a shower service – you need volunteers, towels, clean underwear."

Work will commence on 17 November to upgrade public toilets by installing three showers off Bernini's Colonnade, close to where the Pontiff lives.

The showers will be manned by volunteers and will have soap, clean towels and underwear available, according to Christian Today.

Similar plans are already underway at 10 parishes across Rome.

Krajewski told reporters last year he envisages his work as the papal almoner as being a hands-on extension of Pope Francis, who as cardinal used to visit the slums of Buenos Aires and minister to the homeless.

Francis tasked Krajewski with carrying out "emergency" acts of charity in his name as he can no longer do it in person.

Additional reporting by agency