Vatican: Homeless Man Laid to Rest at Teutonic Cemetery

Flemish Willy Herteleer, Who Begged for Alms Near St. Peter’s Now Buried Among Nobles and Knights

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For the first time in history, a homeless person was buried in the Vatican. Willy Herteleer, Flemish by birth but for decades had no place to call hom, lived from alms in the adjacent neighborhood of Borgo Pio.

As reported by the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero and confirmed by Father Ciro Benedittini, Vice-Director of the Vatican Press Office, Willy was buried in the Teutonic cemetery, behind Saint Peter’s Basilica. It is the oldest German cemetery where aristocrats are buried of Austrian, South-Tyrolean, Swiss-German, Liechtenstein, Luxemburgian , Flemish and Dutch descent.

Herteleer, who was known to be religious, was well known athte Vatican parish of Saint Anne’s  where he went to Mass twice a day, died on December 12, 2014. His funeral was held on January 9 in the presence of Msgr Amerigo Ciani and priests of Saint Peter’s. Near his coffin were two portraits of Herteleer, between coils of incense and wreaths of fresh flowers, reported the Roman daily.

The burial took place shortly after in the Teutonic cemetery, meant initially to receive poor pilgrims from northern Europe even before the nobles, knights and benefactors of the Church. Now with Willy, the cemetery returns to its original function.

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