Vatican to open its museums and the Sistine Chapel to the homeless

(Crux) First Pope Francis gave the homeless in and around St. Peter’s Square sleeping bags to mark his birthday last December. Then the Vatican built showers and got barbers and hairdressers to give them free haircuts and shaves. And now it’s planning to throw open the doors of its museums and the Sistine Chapel to them.

The initiative comes from Polish Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the man appointed by Pope Francis as his personal representative in aiding the poor.

This week, Krajewski announced that on Thursday, a group of 150 homeless men and women will get a guided visit of the museums and take part in a private prayer in the Sistine Chapel, followed by a free dinner at the museum’s restaurant.

According to L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, the visit is designed to allow the poor to admire the artistic beauty that lies inside the Vatican’s walls, not just what’s visible from the steps of the colonnade around St. Peter’s Square.

The newspaper said that Krajewski’s guests will be divided into three groups, with a guide and headphones to take full advantage of the visit that will also include a walk through the Vatican Gardens.

The museums will close to the public 90 minutes early to guarantee the guests have the Sistine Chapel to themselves. [More]