Next Post >> x Pope Francis kisses the foot of a Muslim refugee during the foot-washing ritual at the Castelnuovo di Porto refugees centre near Rome, Italy, on March 24, 2016. The Pope has opened a new, free launderette in Rome as part of his drive to help the homeless and poor in practical ways. Reuters Pope Francis has opened a free launderette in Rome, in the latest of a series of moves aimed at helping poor and homeless people that has included help with housing, meals, showers, haircuts and medical care. Six washing machines and dryers were given to the city centre facility, with detergent and a number of irons also donated. The Vatican said that the 'Lavanderia di Papa Francesco' (Pope Francis Laundry) was intended to 'restore dignity to many people who are our brothers and sisters'. It is designed to serve 'the poorest people, particularly the homeless, who will be able to wash, dry and iron their clothes and blankets'. The launderette is run by the Community of Sant'Egidio and is located in a former hospital near the Vatican. Advertisement Medical facilities as well as showers and a barber shop will also be added. In February, the Pope gave an interview to an Italian magazine run by the homeless, the equivalent to the British paper The Big Issue. In 2015, he opened a shower and barber service and a dormitory near to St Peter's Basilica. And on his 78th birthday two years ago, the Pope distributed hundreds of sleeping bags to homeless people in Rome. Francis has provided homes for several refugee families in the Vatican. Last week, three Syrian families replaced those brought by Francis from the Greek island of Lesbos a year ago. They have since moved out of the Vatican apartments to live independently in Italy. Last September, at the canonisation of Mother Teresa, the Pope invited 1,500 homeless people to Rome to be given seats of honour and a free lunch of pizza. On Maundy Thursday this week, Pope Francis will wash the feet of prisoners at the maximum security jail Paliano, south of Rome. Last year, he washed the feet of refugees including Muslims, Hindus and Coptic Orthodox men and women at a centre for asylum seekers.