Vatican City - One of the homeless people who lived around St Peter's Square has been given a funeral and buried alongside German-speaking dignitaries on Vatican grounds, an official said on Wednesday.
The chairperson of the Confraternity of the Teutonic Cemetery, Aldo Parmeggiani, said Dutchman Willy Hertleleer was buried in the grounds last month. He described it as an act of "mercy".
News of the unprecedented event was published first by the Roman daily Il Messaggero, which wrote that Pope Francis had personally authorised it.
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The Teutonic Cemetery is the resting place for aristocrats, artists, academics and diplomats from Germany, Austria, South Tyrol, German-speaking parts of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Flanders and the Netherlands.
Francis, who said after his election in 2013 that he wanted to lead "a poor church, for the poor", has made several gestures towards the homeless, including installing showers and setting up a weekly free haircut service in St Peter's Square.