Sovereign Military Hospitaller
Order of St John of Jerusalem of
Rhodes and of Malta


A new shelter for the homeless in the heart of Rome

Order of Malta shelter homeless

It took four years, partly because of the pandemic, to complete the work, but finally an important Order of Malta project in Italy has seen the light of day. In the heart of Rome, below the Magistral Villa on the Aventine Hill, a large modern facility has been created to offer assistance to homeless individuals, with showers, laundry, kitchen and clinic.

A simple inauguration ceremony was held in the afternoon of 22 March at the entrance to the facility. The cutting of the ribbon – a white and red tape from the building works to signify the personal commitment of the many volunteers who rolled up their sleeves – was entrusted to Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, the Pope’s special delegate to the Order of Malta, who then blessed the premises. He was flanked by the Grand Chancellor, Riccardo Paternò di Montecupo, in his capacity as outgoing President of the Knights of Malta Italian Association. With evident emotion, the Grand Chancellor described to the many people present a project dear to his heart and dedicated to the memory of his father, Fra’ Renato Paternò di Montecupo.

Present at the ceremony were the heads of the Italian Association, the Grand Priory of Rome, the Rome delegation, the Italian Relief Corps and the Order’s Military Corps, the architect Giorgio Ferreri who planned the work, and the many members and volunteers who contributed, materially and financially, to the achievement of this project. The emotion and satisfaction for the results achieved was palpable on the faces of many of them.

Begun a few days before the Covid-19 lockdown in early 2020, work resumed as soon as health restrictions allowed and continued with great commitment, despite delays due to the complexity of the works and various bureaucratic obstacles. The entire structure is located on the Lungotevere Aventino and has been completely renovated, from the roof terrace to the foundations as well as the walls and floors. All the material for fitting-out the premises has been donated by three hotels and a barracks, including doors, handles, cupboards, and bathroom fittings, the result of a conscious choice for recycling and fight against waste. The “3A” company, directed by Franco Quaranta, which carried out the work also did it on a non-profit basis.

The services for the homeless consist of two shower rooms, for men and women, with 4 showers each and two bathrooms. On the same floor there is also a laundry service with washing machine and dryer, while upstairs there is the clinic. The facility will also be used by the Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps, which has garages for cars and ambulances, as well as warehouses for its equipment and a dormitory for volunteers in emergencies. Some of the premises are used for a food bank and items for the homeless, as well as a room for training volunteers.

In his speech, Riccardo Paternò di Montecupo wanted ‘to heartily thank all those who have contributed economically and with their work to the achievement of this project. I am,’ he continued, ‘particularly happy, as the last act of my presidency of the Italian Association, to deliver to the Order of Malta this centre in which all our members have been involved and who will now manage it for those less fortunate, in the wake of our almost millennial tradition of service.’