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The Vatican authorities is letting homeless persons sleep in one o its churches in Rome so they can escape a cold snap, according to a statement released by the Holy See on Friday.

The building, St Calisto Church and its adjoining buildings in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood, will house about 30 homeless people, both Italian and foreign.

The sleeping areas are heated and equipped with beds, blankets and hygienic services, the statement said.

A hot meal is served beginning at 7 pm (1800 GMT) at a nearby soup kitchen and the sleeping areas open an hour later.

People are asked to leave by 8 am.

The church overnight shelter opened January 7 and will operate as long as the coldV wave persists, the statement said.

Italy’s Civil Protection Department has issued another weather alert, predicting subzero temperatures, snow, and gale force winds to batter Italy starting late Friday and last through the weekend.