A cardinal who conducts acts of charity for Pope Francis has restored power for hundreds of people in a building in Rome after climbing down a manhole and flipping a switch, local media report.
Cardinal Konrad Krajewski said he acted in “desperation” because the occupants of the state-owned property had spent a week without power and hot water.
Activists have been using the building to provide shelter for the homeless.
The electricity supplier cut the power due to debts of €300,000 (£260,000).
The sum is believed to have accumulated in the years since the unused building was taken over in 2013. It now houses more than 400 people, including nearly 100 children.
Matteo Salvini, Italy’s populist deputy prime minister, has said he now expects the papal aide to pay the overdue utility bills, according to the Italian daily La Repubblica.
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On Sunday, Cardinal Krajewski described how he had climbed down a manhole and removed seals covering a switch in order to turn the building’s power supply back on.
“I intervened personally last night to reattach the meters. It was a desperate gesture. There were over 400 people without electricity, with families, children, without even the possibility of operating the refrigerators,” he told Italy’s Ansa news agency.
“I didn’t do it because I was drunk,” he reportedly added.
The building on Via di Santa Croce not only provides shelter, but today also houses workspaces, including a craft beer laboratory and a carpentry shop, Italian media report.