ROME — Three new families have moved into the temporary homes in the Vatican apartments, taking the place of three families from Syria who were welcomed in Italy in late 2015 and early 2016 and have moved on to live independently.
Two of the new families are Christian and, according to an April 3 statement by the papal Almoner’s Office, which helps coordinate Pope Francis’s acts of charity, have suffered “kidnapping and other forms of persecution” because of their faith.
The first of the two families is comprised of a mother of two teenage sons, a grandmother, an aunt and a Syrian woman who lives with them. The second is a young couple and their daughter, Stella, who was born about two weeks ago in the very apartment that is now their home.
“The mother was kidnapped for several months by ISIS and now, in Italy, has regained serenity,” the statement reads.
The third family is Muslim and the first to have arrived in Italy in February 2016. The parents and two children have also overcome hardships. The oldest daughter is sick but is on her way toward recovery.
“The children have been regularly attending elementary school,” the statement reads. The mother is signed up at university and currently has an internship.
In 2015 Pope Francis made an appeal “to the parishes, religious communities, monasteries, and shrines throughout Europe to express the reality of the Gospel and accommodate a family of refugees.”
Today the Vatican offers three apartments for migrants who arrive in Italy through the work of humanitarian organizations such as the Comunità di Sant’Egidio, the federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy and Tavola Valdese.
As a consequence the city of Rome has welcomed 70 families from Syria for a total of 145 people, all of whom volunteers aided in obtaining their full integration within the society by teaching them Italian.
Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, said that aside from providing a home for the three families, the office also continues to provide financial support to the three Syrian families whom Pope Francis brought to Italy after his visit last year to the Greek island of Lesbos and for the nine additional refugees who arrived later.