Rome, Santa Maria Maggiore --
Europe’ first country to be dramatically hit with the Cronavirus was Italy which went into lockdown early-March. People could not leave their regions separating families – or even their homes. In Rome, like other parts of Italy, movement was only possible with a self-declaration form justifying reasons for going outdoors. Medicine, groceries, walking a dog were permitted. Government emergency acts meant Churches cancelled liturgical services and shockingly even the city of Rome fell into dead silence. As the world watched Italy from their screens, a mysterious virus would spread across soon implementing Italy’s lockdown laws.
On Friday March 27th, Pope Francis addressed the world from Rome, and held Eucharistic Adoration at St. Peter’s under the portico facing an empty rainy square. The surreal image was experienced for those who prayed with the Pope live-stream.
What about the Sacraments in the eternal city? Interdictions came from the Italian government with State of Emergency measures beginning in March. The closure of Churches which was determined by Bishops was controversial. When Cardinal Angelo De Donatis the Cardinal Vicar of Rome executed the order to close all of Rome’s Churches, Catholics reacted bitterly to the Cardinal's decision on social media -- a city not only with parishes, but shrines, monasteries, and religious institutes. Papal intervention offered hope some Churches would remain open, unlike the De Donatis decree where all Churches were to be closed.
Fr. David Bellusci, O.P.
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