The Vatican announced that Pope Francis would be raffling gifts he has received for himself to raise money for the poor.
Ever since being elected to the throne of St. Peter, Pope Francis has been recognized as a man who practices what he preaches and many — Catholic and non-Catholic — see this as one of the most interesting traits in the Argentinian priest.
The raffle of the Pope’s 13 personal gifts include a brand new four-wheel-drive Panda Fiat (by now everyone knows that the Pope Francis drives a used car), a Homero Ortega brand Panama hat, bicycles, an espresso coffee machine, watches, and other unspecified items, according to a report from Reuters. There are also 30 other “consolation prizes” being offered.
Posters announcing the raffles of Pope Francis’ items were recently placed all around the Vatican. Tickets for those that want to participate in the auction will cost $12.50 and the winner will be announced on January 8, 2015.
This is the first time a reigning Pope is raffling items for charity. In the past, presents given to Popes have been quietly given away to other religious institutions or missions. Some are still housed at the Vatican, collecting dust.
Pope Francis, who has been concerned with the less privileged from the start, has made fighting poverty one of the priorities of his Papacy. As such, he recently started building bathrooms — complete with showers — for the homeless who frequent St. Peter’s Square.
Work on the public restroom for pilgrims began on Monday of this week and now those visiting St. Peter’s Basilica, as well as the homeless, will have access to wash themselves. The renovations came after a homeless man told the Pope’s Almoner, bishop Konrad Krajewski, that he could not accept an invitation to have a breakfast meal because he smelled bad.
“Here no one starves to death, you can find a sandwich every day. But there is no place to use the toilet and wash,” the man — identified as Franco — told the bishop. The concern was immediately related to Pope Francis, who instructed that the bathrooms be remodeled to include showers that the homeless can use.
Bishop Krajewski has been tasked by Pope Francis with taking provisions to the homeless who roam the area surrounding St. Peter’s Basilica.
“… the Basilica exists in order to keep the Body of Christ, and we serve Jesus’ suffering body by serving the poor. Always, in the history of Rome, the poor congregated around the Basilicas.” Bishop Krajewski told a reporter who asked if tourists would take advantage of the bathrooms.
Pope Francis continues to win hearts and minds of the faithful (and not so faithful) with his honesty and compassion towards those who are less privileged and the raffle is the latest example of how he is transforming the Papacy.