A STUNNING 19th century palace situated close to the Vatican has been transformed into a shelter for the homeless on the orders of Pope Francis.
The Palazzo Migliori was originally set to become a luxury hotel for Vatican City visitors
However, the Pope ordered that the vacant four-storey property instead serve as a sanctuary for the homeless where they can “sleep, eat and learn”.
Located just off St Peter’s Square, the palace has been dubbed “Palace for the Poor” and was officially blessed by the Pope prior to opening its doors.
Once headquarters of the Calasanziane religious order, the palace previously provided support to single mothers in the region.
However, it became vacant after the Calasanziane moved to a new premises and will now serve as a sanctuary for the Rome and the Vatican City’s less fortunate.
Originally built by the Migliori family back in the 1800s, the Catholic Church first purchased the luxury property back in the 1930s.
It features 16 dormitories and enough space for roughly 50 homeless men and women.
Pope Francis is an ardent believer in doing more to help the homeless.
In a 2016 he criticised the treatment of the poorest in society as part of a special mass for the homeless people of Rome.
“It is ominous that we are growing used to this rejection,” he said.
“We should be worried when our consciences are anaesthetised and we no longer see the brother or sister suffering at our side, or notice the grave problems in the world, which become a mere refrain familiar from the headlines on the evening news."
53-year-old Mario Brezza is among those set to benefit from the shelter and support offered by the Palazzo Migliori.
Mr Brezza had to have one of his legs amputated after suffering a “serious circulatory disease”.
Unable to work, he has been left to get by on just £230 of disability benefits.
The Palazzo Migliori looks set to change his life.
“This place feels more like home. I have my own bed, room and bathroom,” he told NBC News.
“It's so different from the dormitories I have tried until now, where sometimes you feel like an animal in a crowded stable.”
Sharon Christner, a 23-year-old volunteering at the shelter also extolled the virtues of the new initiative to the American news outlet.
“Even if they wanted to use it for charity, a lot of people would have rented this place out, make a lot of money and give it to the poor,' she told NBC.
“But what is special about this place is that it's not about maximising dollar signs, but giving people a really beautiful place to be, with the idea that beauty heals.”