Palazzo Migliori, a 19th century palazzo located right behind St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, has been dedicated as a 'Palace of the Poor' by Pope Francis. Run by a lay Catholic charity organization Community of Sant'Egidio, they serve breakfast and dinner to the homeless in the community. It serves 50 people, has hot showers, physical and psychological care, and no one is ever asked to leave.
"I come here in the evening," says a 60 year old named Livia says. "Dinner is served from 7 to 9 p.m. And breakfast is from 7 to 8 in the morning. Then I'm out during the day."
She says her life has radically changed since she found this home.
"During the day, I take some wonderful walks," says Livia. "I've visited lots of churches — especially during Christmas, when they display Nativity scenes. And then I go to the library, because I love to read."
The palazzo was originally owned by a wealthy family and later used as a home for single mothers. Since then, there were plans to turn it into a luxury hotel. Instead, Pope Francis ordered it to be converted into a haven for "nobles of the streets," those who "Francis says society treats as rejects, victims of today's throwaway culture," says director Carlo Santoro.
Unlike many of the Spartan homeless shelters, the palazzo has carved wooden ceilings, frescoed walls and tiled floors, which is a testament to the building's aristocratic origins.
Since the palazzo opened its doors to the needy, many of its guests have gotten back on their feet and with their families. "Because every person, every human being has the right to be respected," Santoro says. "The right to have a good life, good health, and the house, too, and the family around. So in many cases, we feel like the family they have, they've been missing for a long time."