|A volunteer from the Italian organization 'City Angels' speaks with a homeless person at the Vatican.|
Willy Herteller, an 80-year-old Flemish man who used to live in the streets near St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, died in December last year. He has been buried in the Teutonic Cemetery, which dates back to medieval times, alongside clergy and aristocrats.
Herteller was a familiar face to many in Vatican City, including clergy who would often bring him food. As Father Bruno Silvestri, pastor of the Vatican's Church of Saint Anne, remembers, “For over 25 years he attended the 7:00 Mass. He was very, very open and had made many friends. He spoke a lot with young people, he spoke to them of the Lord, he spoke of the Pope, he would invite them to the celebration of the Eucharist.”
While many reportedly tried to help Herteller find permanent housing, he ended up back on the streets and died on Dec. 12 due to cold. An anonymous German-speaking family paid for his funeral arrangements.
As Pope Francis’ papacy continues to focus on helping the marginalized, the Vatican has been championing creative ideas to help those in need, such as distributing sleeping bags and umbrellas and building public showers near St. Peter’s Square.
Read more here.