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Empty St. Peter’s Square as Vatican implements coronavirus protections


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 03/08/20

As announced the day before, the Vatican is complying with Italian directives to cancel public events; Holy Father's reflection was live-streamed instead

As announced Saturday, the pope is live-streaming his public events because of the coronavirus, and the midday Angelus of March 8 was the first held without the customary crowd. An empty St. Peter’s Square was a quiet reminder of the efforts being made across Italy to contain the virus.

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

The general audience of March 11 is also to be live-streamed and Pope Francis will celebrate his daily Mass in private until at least March 15, rather than with a congregation in the Santa Marta chapel.

These measures were implemented at the request of Italian authorities, and “are necessary in order to avoid the risk of the spread of COVID-19 due to large groups of people gathering at security checks for access to the Square.”

Italy has placed much of its northern region under quarantine, with those living in Lombardy and 14 other central and northern provinces requiring special permission to travel. Milan and Venice are both affected.

During his address, given from the Library of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father explained that he dedicated much thought to those suffering from this crisis during his retreat over the past week. “I unite myself to my brothers Bishops in encouraging the faithful to live this difficult moment with the strength of the faith, the certainty of hope and the ardour of charity,” he said.

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

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