Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Friday 23 July |
Saint of the Day: St. Bridget of Sweden
home iconChurch
line break icon

Pope reflects on extraordinary “Urbi et Orbi”: Says he was afraid of slipping on the stairs


Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 10/07/20

"I climbed the stairs praying. I prayed the entire time, and I went away praying. That's how I lived that March 27th."

The director of the Spanish edition of the periodical Il mio Papa, Carmen Magallón, interviewed Pope Francis in an article published Wednesday.

Vatican News summarized the extensive interview here. We share just one section, regarding the Holy Father’s prayer during the pandemic.

Magallón asked the pope about what was in his heart on March 27, in St. Peter’s Square, as he held the extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing.

Readers will recall that momentous night, in which the pope found a way to be present to the faithful, despite the lockdown as Italy endured the worst of its crisis.

Francis chose a unique act that only a pope can perform: the papal blessing “Urbi et Orbi,” which translates from Latin “to the city [of Rome] and to the world.”

It’s an act which no other bishop can perform, and which — in contrast to the Mass or other sacraments — can take place effectively through the media, for the good of the souls of the faithful.

The Vatican determined some decades ago that those who receive the pope’s “Urbi et Orbi” blessing through a live broadcast are eligible to receive its blessing, just as those physically present in St. Peter’s Square.

Read more:
Why the pope’s blessing on March 27 is absolutely unique

It seemed that God himself provided the backdrop for the event, as a gray and rainy night set the tone for the somber blessing.

Pope Francis told Magallón that at first he was afraid of slipping on the wet stairs of St. Peter’s Square. However, he continued, “my heart was with all the people of God who were suffering, with a humanity that had to endure this pandemic and, on the other hand, which had the courage to strive forward. I climbed the stairs praying. I prayed the entire time, and I went away praying. That’s how I lived that March 27th.”

Vincenzo PINTO | AFP

The Holy Father sometimes walks with a quite notable limp as he suffers from sciatica, a condition usually caused by compression of a nerve in the back. Sciatica usually causes intense pain in the back and one leg, and already in the first year of his papacy, the pope spoke about it giving him trouble. “Sciatica is very painful, very painful! I don’t wish it on anyone!” he said, returning from the World Youth Day in Brazil.

Read more:
Full text from Pope Francis’ homily for the special ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing

Read more:
Pray the litany Pope Francis prayed during ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing

Magallón also spoke with the Holy Father about his ministry during this time of social distancing.

The pope said that the General Audiences without the faithful were particularly difficult for him. “It was like talking to ghosts,” he said. “I made up for many of these physical absences with telephone calls and letters. That helped me to take the pulse of how families and communities were living this.”


Read more:
Smiling Pope Francis rejoices to be with faithful again

CoronavirusPope Francis
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
8 Powerful quotes from Nightbirde that will fill you with hope
Kathleen N. Hattrup
2 Bible verses when you’re weary down to the soul
John Burger
Alumni sue after this Catholic saint’s name was removed fro...
Philip Kosloski
Why is Latin the official language of the Church, instead of Aram...
Daniel Esparza
Who are the cherubim in the Bible?
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
5 Questions (and answers) about Pope Francis’ changes to La...
Daniel Esparza
3 Legendary pilgrimages off the beaten path
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.