Vatican offers free haircuts to the homeless

Volunteer barbers will offer service on Mondays

Homeless people in Rome will be able to avail of a free shave and a haircut thanks to an initiative offered by the Vatican each Monday from 16 February.

The service will be provided at a specially renovated premises under St Peter's colonnade by volunteer barbers from UNITALSI (Italian National Union for Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines) and Rome's barber school.

The initiative follows last November's order by Pope Francis to install washing facilities for the homeless in St Peter's Square, which are due to come into operation in the same premises on 16 February.

The service will be offered on Mondays, traditionally a day off for Roman barbers, and is organised by the office of papal charities led by Polish archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner.

Krajweski told Italian news agency ANSA that the Vatican wants to "give people their dignity", underlining the difficulty for homeless people in obtaining a haircut in regular barber shops, or even being admitted to use the bathroom at a bar or restaurant.

Stressing that "all the public restrooms [in Rome] have been shut down" the archbishop posed the question to the city's mayor Ignazio Marino: "Where should these people go to relieve themselves?".